Severe COVID-19 May Be Less Likely for the Physically Active

Woman doing running exercise on footbridge wearing performance face mask and grey jumper
Regular physical activity is associated with a reduced likelihood of adverse COVID-19 outcomes, including severe illness and death.

HealthDay News — Regular physical activity is associated with a reduced likelihood of adverse COVID-19 outcomes, including severe illness and death, according to a review published online Aug. 22 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Yasmin Ezzatvar, Ph.D., from the Universitat de València in Spain, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to quantify the association between physical activity and risk for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection, COVID-19-associated hospitalization, and severe illness and death due to COVID-19 in adults. Data were included from 16 studies with 1,853,160 participants.

The researchers found that compared with their inactive peers, individuals who engaged in regular physical activity had a lower risk for infection, hospitalization, severe COVID-19 illness, and COVID-19-related death (relative risks, 0.89, 0.64, 0.66, and 0.57, respectively). A nonlinear dose-response association between physical activity presented in metabolic equivalent of task (MET)-minutes per week and severe COVID-19 illness and death was seen; the curve plateaued at about 500 MET-min per week.

“These findings may help guide physicians and health care policymakers in making recommendations and developing guidelines with respect to the degree of physical activity that can help reduce the risk of infectivity, hospitalization, severity and mortality of COVID-19 at both the individual and the population level,” the authors write.

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