Long Covid will be the hallmark of the pandemic and is likely to affect hundreds of thousands of patients for years to come. But because the disease is so new, we have very limited information about how to treat it. Some patients are currently discharged from hospital with no formal recovery plan, which can result in a longer recovery process and prolonged side effects.
So when I heard about the free 12-week specialist recovery programme from Nuffield Health, I wanted to learn more. In addition to physical rehabilitation, the programme includes topics such as coping with fatigue, managing breathlessness, anxiety, low mood, improving sleep and eating for recovery.
I chat with Dr Ben Kelly who leads the Clinical Research, Outcomes and Data Science functions within Nuffield Health. Alongside his Nuffield Health responsibilities, Ben has acted as Head of Interdisciplinary Medicine & Technology at the Medical Research Council, with his clinical expertise in cardiology. Paula Moore also joins us and is a business graduate and certified health and life coach, spending most of her career in senior retail management who personally recovered from chronic stress and fatigue 6 years ago.
We mention the term VO₂ max during the podcast a few times without defining it. Put simply, VO₂ max is the maximum rate of oxygen your body is able to use during exercise. The greater your VO₂ max, the more oxygen your body can consume, and the more effectively your body can use that oxygen to generate the maximum amount of ATP energy. Studies have shown that increasing your VO₂ max can help maintain your health and physical fitness well into your later years. This may have a role in recovery from Long Covid and mitigating symptoms such as fatigue and breathlessness.