A study looking at more than 24,000 middle-aged and older adults found that Covid-19 was associated with worsening ability to move around and difficulties in physical functioning.
Authors from McMaster University and other Canadian universities published the study on Wednesday in JAMA Network Open.
Of the 24,114 participants, 121 had either a positive test result or a Covid-19 diagnosis from a health care practitioner with no confirmatory test. Seven of them were hospitalized and 113 were considered to have had mild-to-moderate disease.
The authors found that those who had a probable or confirmed case had nearly twofold higher odds of reporting worsening ability to engage in household activity and to participate in physical activity. Those who were suspected to have had Covid-19 were also twofold as likely to report worsening ability to move around in the home, engage in housework activity and participate in physical activity.
Looking to specific activities, those with confirmed or probable Covid-19 were more likely to experience worsening difficulty standing up after sitting in a chair than those without Covid-19. Those with suspected Covid-19 also were more likely to experience worsening difficulty walking up and downstairs and walking two to three blocks.
The results of the study show that sociodemographic risk factors and having three or more chronic conditions were associated with a decline in mobility and/or function as well, the authors wrote.
There is “a need to further understand the longer-term impacts of the illness and to consider the development and implementation of effective intervention and management approaches to address any persistent deficits in mobility and functioning among those living in the community," the authors wrote.
The study does have some limitations, including that not all Covid-19 cases were confirmed with testing, only a small number of the participants had Covid-19 and that functional ability was not assessed using performance-based tests. The study also did not assess the exact timing of Covid-19 diagnosis related to the decline in mobility, or how long mobility deficits could last.