Last week ITV West Country news showed a report on Long Covid, you may have seen it? If you did you will have seen Lyn, one of Ashtanga Yoga Exmouth’s wonderful most dedicated students who also assists us (pre Corona Virus) in our classes.
Lyn has practised Ashtanga Yoga with us for many years whilst also competing in Ironman & running events, more recently playing a huge part in the Park run every Saturday morning along Exmouth Beach. For as long as we have known Lyn her diet and lifestyle have been a priority, staying well so that she may be there for her family, enjoy her running and her Yoga practice.
For all of us life changed in March with the first UK lockdown, life as we knew it just stopped. But for Lyn and many like her the change was more dramatic. Unknowingly Lyn had contracted the Corona Virus and is still now, in November, suffering with what is now widely known as Long Covid.
“I kept pushing through, not resting when I was first ill. This was very damaging but I didn’t know that.” Lyn told me
“I needed to listen to what my body was saying, NOT, what I thought it needed”
I think we all do this don’t we? We begin to feel very slightly better so we think we need to be ‘doing’ something, we very much underestimate the power of rest. But if we don’t rest up properly our bodies may give us no choice.
In an article in the Guardian on 3rd November Amelia Horgan wrote
“When people ask me about long Covid, all I want to talk about is rest. We don’t yet know everything about this disease, but if it’s symptoms overlap with post-viral illnesses and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME), which they appear to, we can assume that rest will play a significant role in its treatment”
Unfortunately not all of us will be able to access rest and recuperation, taking time off for some folks is not an option, as Amelia Horgan says ‘it depends on your safety net, your employer, people who can care for you or savings to tide you over’
Lyn is fortunate in this sense as she was able to take a break from her full time studies at Exeter University and has wonderful children and family who are supporting each other but not everyone will have this.
There are so many unknowns with this virus, we do not yet know how to prevent Long Covid once you contract Corona Virus but all the evidence suggests that allowing yourself to rest as long as you can, even when you start to feel better, resisting the temptation to get straight back to work, fitness or housework, if this is possible for you, otherwise your body may just give you no choice as it has done with most Long Covid sufferers.
There are many symptoms with Long Covid, including neurological, respiratory and gut problems but everyone seems to suffer with the same extreme fatigue.
Lyn is 51 and according to a study led by Dr Claire Steve’s and Prof Tim Spector this is the age group, Women 50-60, which has the greatest risk of developing Long Covid. In her article Linda Geddes writes
“Women aged 50-60 are at greatest risk of developing “long Covid”, analysis suggests. Older age and experiencing five or more symptoms within the first week of illness were also associated with a heightened risk of lasting health problems.”
The study, led by Dr Claire Steves and Prof Tim Spector at King’s College London, analysed data from 4,182 COVID Symptom Study app users who had been consistently logging their health and had tested positive for the virus. In general, women were twice as likely to suffer from Covid symptoms that lasted longer than a month, compared with men – but only until around the age of 60, when their risk level became more similar.”
Prof Tim Spector has also teamed up with the Menopause specialist Dr Louise Newson looking at Oestrogen and researching if it plays a part in the contracting and recovering from this virus.
Women in peri menopause can sometimes develop an intolerance to Histamine and some research is also going on here too.
Dr Peers of the Menopauseconsultancy.co.uk is helping conduct work into potential links with menopause, long Covid, Histamine intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)
Dr Peers talks to BBC news about this subject here
Women are also less likely to take rest as the majority of childcare and housework, still falls to them. According to the analysis conducted by University College London (UCL) and published in the journal Work, Employment and Society, “gender norms remain strong” when it comes to household chores. Women are still doing the majority of housework and childcare when living with a male partner, this study found.
Whilst discussing bias another study by – Laura Jones, Research Associate, Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London revealed
“Men’s voices dominate in almost every category of media coverage related to the coronavirus crisis and every topic analysed in this study, with the exception of what are often seen as ‘women’s issues’, such as childcare. The imbalance is worse when it comes to those who are cited in the press as authorities on the pandemic – the more expert and well-known the voices become, the further women’s share in them decreases. While the pandemic continues to have gendered impacts, it is clear that female voices in the public debate are a minority”
Lyn and I are adding our female voices to raise awareness of Long Covid and particularly the risk for women, moreover Menopausal Women. Please don’t brush it off thinking that a healthy lifestyle and diet will give you immunity. If you do get Covid, yes if you have no underlying illness you should recover well but don’t rush back, rest, rest and even more rest.
“I tried to get fit again, very bad idea. I utterly misunderstood the concept of convalescence. The things I instinctively think will help me don’t, this makes it very hard”
Not all of us will get Corona Virus but for those that do (to date) 1 in 20 will have Long Covid (Symptoms 8 or more weeks).
Awareness is key in prevention as is lifestyle and diet but should you contract the virus resting for as long and as much as you can seems to be the simple (but not always easy) thing to do.
Lyn has her meditation practice and is experimenting with breathing practices, she can walk around the house but has to use a wheelchair on the days that she can go outside. Her Asana practice will come back but this is only one part of practicing Yoga, her awareness and presence is her Yoga practice for now and that is a good teacher for us all.
She remains very positive and has this advice;
“ If anyone catches Covid, symptoms or not, immediately go into a convalescent mind set. Don’t do any rigorous exercise for at least 12 weeks as it can affect the heart and the heart needs to recover. Just treat the body like a precious gift and listen too it”
Stay safe and Stay well,
Jinty Sheerin. AYE