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New research suggests simple steps to reduce long COVID symptoms

Research suggests these steps to reduce long COVID symptoms
Research suggests these steps to reduce long COVID symptoms 02:10

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Preventing long COVID-19. There's new research out that says there might be some simple steps to reduce the risk of lingering symptoms.

Millions of Americans are struggling with long COVID. Symptoms like fatigue and brain fog that don't go away. This new research says a healthy lifestyle might be the solution.

Why do some people suffer long COVID symptoms and others don't?

New research in JAMA Internal Medicine looks at six lifestyle factors: diet, exercise, not smoking, healthy weight, adequate sleep and moderate alcohol consumption.

Women who have five or six of these healthy building blocks are about half as likely to get long COVID, compared to women who have one or two.

"What if Americans all had five or six of these healthy lifestyles instead of whatever they do have now? Ph.D. Andrea Roberts said. "And we calculated that about 36% of long COVID cases would have been avoided."

The study looks at data on more than 32,000 female nurses at the start of the pandemic and follows them for a year. It says inflammation may play a critical role.

"There have been a bunch of studies to suggest that people who have inflammation in their bodies are more likely to end up with long COVID and we know that a lot of these healthy lifestyle factors are related to reducing inflammation in your body," Roberts said.

Having a healthy weight and getting seven to nine hours of sleep a day is the strongest lifestyle factors associated with lower long COVID risk.

"I think sleep is something we really overlook oftentimes when we're talking about health," Roberts said. "And we all know that you know, our sleep habits maybe aren't the best.

Taking some simple healthy steps could possibly prevent what for many is a long haul after COVID.

Researchers also say people who have more serious cases of COVID tend to have lingering symptoms. 

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