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Lydia Bailey, Michael Berry, FACSM. Wake Forest University, Winston Salem, NC.

BACKGROUND: In December of 2019, a novel coronavirus disease began in Wuhan, China and spread rapidly around the world becoming what is known as COVID-19. Symptoms such as fatigue, reduced physical function and dyspnea have been reported months after patients have thought to have cleared the virus. This condition of lasting symptoms is referred to as Long COVID. Pulmonary, neurological, cardiac, musculoskeletal and cognitive deficits resulting from the disease can negatively impact a patient’s physical function. Given previous research has supported the use of exercise as a rehabilitation tool to improve physical function in patients with diseases and conditions affecting these various systems, the primary purpose of this study is to determine if a structured exercise program will improve physical function in Long COVID patients. METHODS: This is a wait-list control pilot study. Patients with a positive polymerase chain reaction test for COVID-19 within the previous 2 to 6 months will be randomized to either an immediate treatment group or a wait list control group. The immediate treatment group will participate in a center-based, thrice weekly, three-month exercise program consisting of both aerobic and resistance exercises. The wait list control will receive usual care for three months, then participate in the exercise program. Tests of physical function will be administered prior to and following the three-month exercise program and include exercise capacity from a graded exercise test, 6-minute walk distance and the Short Physical Performance Battery. Secondary outcomes include measures of lung, cardiac, musculoskeletal and cognitive function. Analysis of covariance with baseline measures as the covariate will be used to compare outcomes between the two groups. ANTICIPATED RESULTS: Based on research showing the benefits of exercise in patients with diseases affecting various systems of the body, we anticipate the three-month exercise program will improve physical function in Long COVID patients as compared to the control group.

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