Post-COVID-19 remains a prevalent and challenging condition to treat. Fortunately, we continue to publish new research and develop additional insights into best practices. This trial evaluated the effectiveness of a tailored exercise program, based on multicomponent exercise training. It compared the recovery of persistent or recurrent symptoms and functional limitations after the exercise program to a control group provided with a self-management leaflet.
The trial included 39 participants who had post-COVID-19 symptoms lasting at least 3 months. Exercise participants completed a 3 days-a-week concurrent training routine: 2 days of resistance training (50% 1RM [one- repetition maximum], 3 sets, 8 repetitions, 4 exercises [squat, bench press, deadlift, and bench pull]) combined with moderate intensity variable training (MIVT: 4–6×3–5 min at 70%– 80% heart rate reserve [HRR]/2–3 min at 55%–65% HRR), and 1 day of light intensity continuous training (LICT: 30– 60min, 65%–70% HRR). Intensity and volume did not change for resistance training (weight increased as strength improved to maintain the same %1RM) but endurance increased linearly. All training sessions stayed between 11 and 12 RPE in LICT and below 16 RPE in MIVT. The control group received WHO guidelines which are aerobic exercise for 20– 30min was recommended, 5days a week at an intensity that allows breathless speech plus strength exercises in 3 weekly sessions (3×10 repetitions of the seven recommended exercises).
Both groups improved physically (good news) but the intervention group experienced significantly better outcomes in VO2 max, sit-to-stand, load velocity profiles, quality of life, fatigue, depression, functional status, cardiovascular fitness, and strength. In conclusion, tailored programs once again beat general recommendations.