Believe it or not, there is a simple way to minimize the risk of developing long Covid. A new study found that a healthy lifestyle before COVID-19 infection could lower the risk of lingering symptoms.
Published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal Monday, the study reported that simple adherence to a healthy lifestyle before infection with SARS-CoV-2 could significantly reduce the risk of post-COVID-19 conditions (PCC).
The researchers looked at 1,981 women who reported a positive Covid test from April 2020 to November 2021 while noting their lifestyle choices. The participants were part of the Nurses’ Health Study II — a program surveying more than 100,000 nurses in the U.S. since 1989.
Compared with those who did not follow a healthy lifestyle before their COVID-19 infections, participants living healthy had about half the risk of developing long Covid symptoms.
The team found that women with a healthy pre-infection lifestyle had a lower risk of PCC for four weeks or longer. They noted that the associations were mostly driven by healthy body weight and adequate sleep.
“In this prospective cohort study, pre-infection healthy lifestyle was associated with a substantially lower risk of PCC. Future research should investigate whether lifestyle interventions may reduce risk of developing PCC or mitigate symptoms among individuals with PCC or possibly other postinfection syndromes,” they concluded.
Previous research already linked lifestyle factors with the risk of having severe COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, or death. The new study extended the impact of lifestyle factors on the chances of developing long Covid.
“In the past decades, scientists have accumulated evidence that [a] healthy lifestyle is good for overall health, ” lead study author Siwen Wang, a research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a statement, as per CNN.
Wang continued, “However, in the U.S. for example, 70% of the population do not have a healthy body weight and 30% do not sleep enough. Findings from this study suggest that simple lifestyle changes, such as having adequate sleep, may be beneficial for the prevention of long COVID.”