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FITNESS OPINION

PHOTO: ©ENSANA HEALTH SPA HOTELS & RESORTS

Ensana has introduced a Respiratory Recovery Programme

Ask an expert…

Treating Long COVID Breathwork is growing in popularity in spas thanks to its mindfulness benefits. But could it have a role to play in treating Long COVID? Katie Barnes investigates

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ince COVID-19 struck over a year ago, 175 million people globally have been infected with the coronavirus which attacks the respiratory system. At the start of the pandemic, it was believed that the majority of people who contracted the disease would experience only mild symptoms over a short period. However, a preliminary study by Kings College in London*, estimates that up to one in 20 people are affected by Long COVID – meaning their symptoms aren’t severe enough for them to be hospitalised but linger on for more than eight weeks. Meanwhile, one in 50 people experience the illness for longer than 12 weeks. Long COVID is characterised by a range of symptoms, but broadly speaking the team at Kings College identified two main groups. The first group experienced problems across multiple parts of the body, including the brain, gut and heart. While the second group was dominated by respiratory issues such as shortness of breath, a cough, fatigue and headaches. Spas are well placed to offer programmes for all Long COVID sufferers, but it’s the people who have been affected by respiratory issues

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that could potentially benefit the most given the industry’s natural affiliation to breathwork. As an extension of yoga and meditation, the practice of breathwork – focused on how we breathe and altering patterns of respiration – is something more spas are offering. It’s seen as a great way to manage anxiety, reduce stress, promote clarity in our daily lives and strongly connects the body and mind. But what if spas were to tap into this further to use breathwork to help treat Long COVID? What’s the science behind it? What might work, or not? What else could it be combined with for effectiveness and is there any official training? We ask those in the know to shed some light. *Source: Sudre, C et al. Attributes and predictors of Long-COVID: analysis of COVID cases and their symptoms collected by the COVID Symptoms Study App. MedRxiv. Oct 2020

Katie Barnes is the editor of Spa Business magazine ■ katiebarnes@leisuremedia.com