Health and fitness

Physical exercise provides positive health benefits on COVID-19 outcomes

According to a recent study published in Plos One, engaging in regular physical exercise has a positive impact on the prognosis of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Physical exercise provides positive health benefits on COVID-19 outcomes

 

According to a recent study published in Plos One, engaging in regular physical exercise has a positive impact on the prognosis of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The study revealed that regions with a prevalent culture of physical activity before the pandemic exhibited higher cure rates and lower morbidity and mortality associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection.

Regular physical activity has long been recognized as a means to enhance the immune system. By boosting immunity, individuals are better equipped to mount a potent defense against pathogen invasions, including viral illnesses such as COVID-19. Furthermore, regular exercise has been proven effective in managing various chronic diseases and promoting overall physical and mental well-being.

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Physical exercise has numerous benefits, including enhancing neurological function, strengthening bones and muscles, improving cardiopulmonary and circulatory health, and boosting cognitive abilities. Additionally, it helps reduce the risk of developing diseases and premature death. It is often recommended for the prevention and treatment of metabolic conditions like obesity and type 2 diabetes, as well as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and cancer. Exercise also plays a role in improving mental health by alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety. Moreover, it aids in fortifying the immune system, improving immunological function, and reducing the likelihood, duration, and severity of infections.

Physical exercise provides positive health benefits on COVID-19 outcomes

 

In the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, regular physical activity may enhance the immune system’s resistance to SARS-CoV-2. Although COVID-19 vaccines have proven successful in preventing infection and reducing the risk of severe symptoms, the rapid evolution of the virus has led to the emergence of new variants of concern (VOCs) with higher transmission and immune evasion properties. Some individuals are hesitant to receive vaccines due to concerns over potential hazards, acute post-vaccination symptoms, limited efficacy against new variants, or disparities in access.

Strengthening the immune system through physical activity can be a crucial step in mitigating the pandemic and reducing the rate of symptomatic disease. It complements pharmacological interventions and can help bridge gaps in global healthcare infrastructure. Furthermore, promoting physical activity is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and overall well-being.

The study examined data from 279 Chinese prefecture-level cities, analyzing the effects of physical activity on public health outcomes during the COVID-19 outbreak. Multiple linear regression analysis was used to estimate the impact of physical exercise on morbidity, mortality, and cure rates. The results consistently showed that regular physical activity was associated with higher cure rates and lower morbidity and mortality. These findings held true even after considering various factors such as public health initiatives, vaccine availability and coverage, demographics, environment, and medical resources.

In summary, engaging in regular physical exercise before a widespread COVID-19 outbreak was found to improve disease prognosis and health-related outcomes, particularly in regions heavily affected by the virus. Therefore, promoting and incorporating regular physical activity into daily routines can serve as an effective measure for future epidemic prevention and overall well-being.

Need Another Reason to Exercise? It Could Protect You from COVID-19

Regular physical activity may play a crucial role in protecting individuals from severe COVID-19 outcomes and could even reduce the risk of infection, as highlighted in a research review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine on August 22nd. Co-author Yasmin Ezzatvar, a doctor of physical therapy and nursing instructor at Spain’s University of Valencia, emphasizes that it is time to view exercise as medicine, backed by mounting evidence.

The researchers analyzed 16 previously published studies investigating the relationship between physical activity and COVID-19 outcomes. These studies collectively involved over 1.8 million adults, most of whom self-reported their exercise habits. Notably, the majority of these studies were conducted during 2020 and early 2021, prior to the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines.

The findings revealed a significant link between regular physical activity and improved COVID-19 outcomes. Compared to individuals with low levels of physical activity, those who engaged in regular exercise were approximately 36% less likely to require hospitalization if they contracted the virus and 43% less likely to die from COVID-19. To achieve the best protection, the researchers found that individuals should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous movement per week, in line with the recommendations from U.S. public-health officials.

While the association between exercise and better health outcomes might be intuitive, the study also presented a surprising discovery. Active individuals were approximately 11% less likely to get infected with SARS-CoV-2 compared to their sedentary counterparts. This suggests that physical activity itself may confer a protective effect against contracting the virus.

Ezzatvar explains that regular physical activity can contribute to a more effective immune response, enhancing immunity against various infections, not just COVID-19. The paper does not conclusively establish that exercise causes these effects, but it demonstrates a clear link between exercise and improved COVID-19 outcomes. However, the researchers acknowledge that other factors, such as differences in lifestyle, viral exposure, and socioeconomic status, may also contribute to the observed trends. Additionally, the studies were conducted before the emergence of the Omicron variant and during a period when vaccinations were not widely available, limiting the generalizability of the findings to the current situation.

One potential caveat highlighted in the research is that exercising in close proximity to someone with COVID-19 might not protect against infection. A small study published in May found that individuals engaging in high-intensity exercise emit a significantly higher number of aerosols per minute compared to when they are at rest. This increased aerosol emission could heighten the risk of transmission if a person exercising nearby has the virus.

Despite this caveat, Ezzatvar emphasizes that exercise remains highly recommended for most individuals. Regular physical activity not only contributes to COVID-19 protection but also benefits mental and physical health overall.

In conclusion, the research review provides valuable insights into the potential benefits of regular physical activity in mitigating COVID-19’s impact. The findings suggest that exercise may contribute to better COVID-19 outcomes, reducing the risk of severe illness and death in those who contract the virus. Moreover, engaging in physical activity could also potentially lower the risk of infection itself. However, further research is needed to establish a definitive cause-and-effect relationship between exercise and COVID-19 outcomes. Nonetheless, it is clear that regular exercise offers numerous health benefits and should be an essential part of maintaining overall well-being, especially during the ongoing pandemic.

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