BOSTON, Mass. (WLNS) – 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? And we calculated that about 36% of long COVID cases would have been avoided,” said Harvard PhD Senior Study Author Andrea Roberts.

The study looks at data on more than 32,000 female nurses at the start of the pandemic and follows them for a year. Dr. Roberts 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,” said Dr. Roberts.

Having a healthy weight and getting seven to nine hours of sleep a day are 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. And we all know that, you know, our sleep habits maybe aren’t the best,” said Dr. Roberts.

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