Johanna Sick, MSc


Thesis title: "Exercise and long COVID-19:  Effects of different training modalities on long COVID-19 symptoms, physical performance, inflammation, health-related quality of life and cognitive function"

Thesis outline: It is estimated that about 20% of all individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 are affected by long lasting sequelae. If these persist for three months or more after the acute phase of the disease, the condition is referred to as Post-COVID-19 syndrome or Long-COVID-19. Furthermore, many people state that their physical performance is still limited since the COVID-19 disease.

Given the novelty of the condition, there is little evidence on the treatment of Post-COVID/Long-COVID. Physical activity has been established as a therapeutic tool for similar chronic conditions. It can be assumed that a subgroup of individuals affected by Post-COVID/Long-COVID who do not experience worsening of symptoms after physical, emotional or cognitive stress (PEM) may benefit from physical activity. It is particularly important that both the volume and intensity of the exercise is increased slowly and progressively.

The research project "Physical Activity and Post-COVID/Long-COVID" will investigate the effects of two different types of training (endurance vs. concurrent training) on different health parameters in affected individuals. There are assessments of body composition, heart rate variability, blood inflammatory markers, subjective physical and mental health, concentration performance and physical strength and endurance performance pre and post intervention. The results will be compared to data from a control group. Randomisation to either one of the two intervention groups or the control group takes place after the participants have undergone the pre interventional testing procedures.

We hope to find that physical activity can enhance physical and mental health in people that have persistent symptoms after an infection with SARS-CoV-2. My personal motivation is to push forward research devoted to Post-COVID/Long-COVID as well as helping affected individuals and safely guiding them towards an active lifestyle along the way.

Supervisor & Co-Mentors: Daniel König & Jürgen Scharhag and Rhoia Clara Neidenbach