‘I live a kind of shadow life’: individual experiences of COVID-19 recovery and the impact on physical activity levels

James Shelley, Joanne Hudson, Kelly A. Mackintosh, Zoe L. Saynor, Jamie Duckers, Keir E. Lewis, Gwyneth A. Davies, Ronan M. G. Berg, Melitta A. McNarry

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Abstract

Understanding of strategies to support individuals recovering from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is limited. ‘Long COVID’ is a multisystem disease characterised by a range of respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neurological, and musculoskeletal symptoms extending beyond 12 weeks. The aim of this study was to explore individuals’ experiences of recovering from COVID-19 to provide a better understanding of the acute and long-term impact of the disease on physical activity (PA). Individualised semi-structured interviews were conducted with 48 adults recovering from COVID-19 at 6–11 months post-infection. An inductive thematic analysis approach was used, reaching saturation at 14 interviews (10 female; 47 ± 7 years). Four overarching themes were identified: (i) Living with COVID-19, including managing activities of daily living; (ii) Dealing with the Unknown and self-management strategies; (iii) Re-introducing physical activity; and (iv) Challenges of returning to work. The return to PA, whether through activities of daily living, work or exercise, is often associated with the exacerbation of symptoms, presenting a range of challenges for individuals recovering from COVID-19. Individually tailored support is therefore required to address the unique challenges posed by COVID-19.
Original languageEnglish
Article number11417
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number21
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • exercise
  • SARS‐CoV‐2
  • long COVID
  • rehabilitation

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