News Release

Using wrist-worn activity trackers to help patients reduce long COVID symptoms

New Scripps Research trial aims to validate the use of wearables in guiding participants to effectively monitor mental, physical and emotional exertion—a strategy called pacing

Business Announcement

Scripps Research Institute


LA JOLLA, CA—Scientists at the Scripps Research Digital Trials Center have partnered with the health technology company CareEvolution to launch a remote study that will investigate whether wrist-worn devices, such as activity trackers and smartwatches, can help people with long COVID manage and reduce the severity of their symptoms.

“New treatments and interventions are urgently needed,” says the study principal investigator Julia Moore Vogel, PhD. “We’re excited to launch the Long COVID Wearable Study and apply our team’s expertise in sensor technologies and digital trials to collecting robust data on how activity trackers might provide some patients with much needed relief. While symptom management will not remove the root cause of long COVID, we hope to validate the patient community’s experience that pacing is currently one of the best ways to reduce symptom severity, and wearable devices can help implement pacing.”

Even as COVID-19 precautions end, long COVID continues to exact a heavy toll on millions of people worldwide. An estimated 65 million individuals have long COVID and there are currently no broadly effective treatments. The illness consists of a collection of symptoms that develop and continue after a COVID-19 infection. It can affect multiple organ systems of the body including respiratory, cardiovascular, neurological, musculoskeletal and immunological, with symptoms varying from person to person. For many, long COVID has a profound and debilitating impact on daily life.

Researchers have observed significant overlap between long COVID and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), with many patients struggling with post-exertional malaise—a worsening of symptoms after even minor physical, mental or emotional exertion. Many also suffer from Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)—an increase in heart rate when a person stands up or walks, causing dizziness and heart palpitations. For both conditions, patients have reported that monitoring levels of energy expenditure has helped them improve symptom management. This exercise, known as pacing, allows patients to identify their own quantitative thresholds to help avoid symptom exacerbation.

Trackers that collect a range of metrics—including heart rate, heart rate variability, physical activity, sleep patterns and stress levels—have been shown to be helpful tools for capturing and monitoring a person’s physiological state throughout the day. The Long COVID Wearable Study will allow scientists to analyze sensor data from participants coupled with data related to diagnoses, symptoms and quality of life collected via surveys. The goal of the study is to determine if long COVID, ME/CFS, and POTS patients who wear wrist-worn activity trackers and who receive educational materials on pacing see a decrease in symptom severity and whether this differs by device brand.

To conduct the trial, Vogel and colleagues partnered with CareEvolution, the company behind the MyDataHelps digital clinical trial platform. Participants can enroll, complete electronic consent, answer surveys and communicate with study coordinators via a mobile or web app, making it possible for people to participate remotely, without the need to visit a clinic.

“The ubiquity of smartphones is driving a new era in research where traditional barriers for participation are being removed,” says Vik Kheterpal, MD, principal at CareEvolution. “The long COVID community is a perfect example of a patient group that can benefit from a digital trial experience, which enables participation from home, at your own pace.”   

While participants can use their own activity tracker or smartwatch to take part, the study team will also be distributing 500 Garmin wearables to an eligible subset of participants who do not own a device.

For more details about the Long COVID Wearable Study including how to participate, visit

About Scripps Research

Scripps Research is an independent, nonprofit biomedical institute ranked one of the most influential in the world for its impact on innovation by Nature Index. We are advancing human health through profound discoveries that address pressing medical concerns around the globe. Our drug discovery and development division, Calibr, works hand-in-hand with scientists across disciplines to bring new medicines to patients as quickly and efficiently as possible, while teams at Scripps Research Translational Institute harness genomics, digital medicine and cutting-edge informatics to understand individual health and render more effective healthcare. Scripps Research also trains the next generation of leading scientists at our Skaggs Graduate School, consistently named among the top 10 US programs for chemistry and biological sciences. Learn more at

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