Study: Exercise May Treat Depression, Diabetes Caused by Long COVID-19


Thirty minutes of day of movement, such as walking, can help break the cycle of inflammation that causes symptoms even 6 months later.

Although no medically recognized treatment for long-COVID exists, exercise may break the vicious cycle of inflammation that can lead to developing depression and diabetes months after an individual recovers from the virus, results of a study published in Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews showed.1

“We know that long-COVID causes depression, and we know that it can increase blood glucose levels to the point where people develop diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening condition common among people with type 1 diabetes,” Candida Rebello, PhD, a research scientist at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, said in a statement.“Exercise takes care of the inflammation that leads to elevated blood glucose and the development and progression of diabetes and clinical depression.”

It is unclear how many individuals suffer from long COVID-19, but estimates range between 15% and 80% of individuals infected. Based on those figures, it is possible that as many as 1 million of Louisiana’s residents suffer from long COVID-19.

Rebello said that an individual might not get symptoms with COVID-19, but 6 months later could develop diabetes.1

Investigators said that about 30 minutes of exercise per day, such as walking, can help, even if it is 2 15-minute sessions, and it is important to build up stamina.1

“We know that physical activity is a key component to a healthy life. This research shows that exercise can be used to break the chain reaction of inflammation that leads to high blood sugar levels and then to the development or progression of type 2 diabetes,” John Kirwan, PhD, executive director of Pennington Biomedical Research Center, said in the statement.1

Long COVID-19 is new, ongoing, or returning health problems that an individual experiences approximately 4 or more weeks after being infected with the coronavirus, even if they did not initially have symptoms with the infection, according to the CDC.2

The symptoms can last for weeks or even months and include change in smell or taste, chest pain, cough, difficulty concentrating, dizziness when standing, fatigue, headaches, joint or muscle pain, shortness of breath, and sleep problems, according to the CDC.2

Additionally, individuals who had severe illness with COVID-19 can experience autoimmune conditions or multiorgan effects after an infection.2

The CDC recommends that individuals get vaccinated to help prevent COVID-19 and post-infection complications.2


  1. Exercise may treat long COVID-induced diabetes, depression. EurekAlert. News release. March 11, 2022. Accessed March 15, 2022.
  2. Post-COVID conditions. CDC. Updated September 16, 2021. Accessed March 15, 2022.
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