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Update on Covid Exercise Blog concerns

In August the University of Wolverhampton published a blog called “the role of exercise in Covid-19”, which included “exercise has a key role to play for those patients whose ongoing symptoms are due to de-conditioning and post viral fatigue.”

A few weeks ago we released a letter signed by members of Forward ME that covered key points regarding post viral fatigue syndrome following Covid 19, including spotting signs and symptoms and appropriate management. This letter was designed to be a quick way to challenge or inform publications and services that were not recognising this important aspect of post Covid care.

We contacted the University of Wolverhampton with a copy of our letter, raising concerns that exercise could actually be detrimental for post viral fatigue. We received a response from Professors Roger Wolman and Matthew Wyn, which has also been published underneath their original blog post.

We were disappointed to see that though they allude to the concerns raised, they did not publish our letter, so readers are not able to see the information we provided.

Unfortunately it appears that they have also not fully understood the nature of our concerns. Within the published response they state; “physical activity and the capacity to do basic functional movements are fundamental for physical and mental health”. As Physios for ME are all physiotherapists, we are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about promoting physical activity and whole-heartedly agree with this statement.

We do, however, understand the physiological impact of physical activity in post viral fatigue, and this is our primary concern with regards the approach for this group of patients.

Their response then focuses on patients who are recovering from time on ICU, whereas the majority of post viral fatigue that is being seen is in patients who have not had hospital admissions.

It is dangerous to presume that people recovering from Covid-19 are simply deconditioned and need graded exercise to recover. While basic deconditioning does indeed occur after prolonged bedrest, and exercise should be used as an approach for recovery, it is imperative that health professionals are able to spot the signs of post viral fatigue and post viral fatigue syndrome so that they can alter their management accordingly and prevent worsening of symptoms.

Further information about this can be found on our Covid 19 page.

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