Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BackgroundSince the COVID-19 pandemic, post-COVID syndrome (persistent symptoms/complications lasting >12 weeks) continues to pose medical and economic challenges. In military personnel, where optimal fitness is crucial, prolonged limitations affecting their ability to perform duties has occupational and psychological implications, impacting deployability and retention. Research investigating post-COVID syndrome exercise capacity and cardiopulmonary effects in military personnel is limited.MethodsUK military personnel were recruited from the Defence Medical Services COVID-19 Recovery Service. Participants were separated into healthy controls without prior SARS-CoV-2 infection (group one), and participants with prolonged symptoms (>12 weeks) after mild-moderate (community-treated) and severe (hospitalised) COVID-19 illness (group 2 and 3, respectively). Participants underwent cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) and spectroscopy, echocardiography, pulmonary function testing and cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET).Results113 participants were recruited. When compared in ordered groups (one to three), CPET showed stepwise decreases in peak work, work at VT1 and VO2 max (all p 1 (p = 0.005), TLC (p = 0.002), VA (p ConclusionIn an active military population, post-COVID syndrome is linked to subclinical changes in maximal exercise capacity. Alongside disease specific changes, many of these findings share the phenotype of deconditioning following prolonged illness or bedrest. Partitioning of the relative contribution of pathological changes from COVID-19 and deconditioning is challenging in post-COVID syndrome recovery.

Original publication




Journal article


International journal of cardiology

Publication Date



University of Oxford Centre for Clinical Magnetic Resonance Research, Radcliffe Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Oxford, United Kingdom; Defence COVID-19 Recovery Service, Stanford Hall, Loughborough, UK; Academic Department of Military Medicine, Birmingham, UK; Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (South), Oxford, UK.