It’s no secret that exercise is good medicine and one of the keys to better health and longer life. In fact, physical activity has been shown to reduce your risk of everything from high blood pressure and heart disease to type 2 diabetes, dementia and even cancer.
And now, if you needed one more reason to get off the couch and get moving, there’s more…
According to researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center, getting in a good workout could keep you out of the ICU, or even save your life, if you end up with COVID-19.
Time to break a sweat
The team of researchers used data from a whopping 48,440 adults who had tested positive for COVID-19 between January and October 2020. For each patient, the researchers examined at least two surveys that delved into what they call the “Exercise Vital Sign.”
This is data collected during outpatient visits that looked into how often each person exercised, how long their workouts were and how intense their normal exercise session was.
And it all boiled down to one inescapable conclusion…
Even inconsistent exercise can significantly improve your odds of avoiding hospitalization and surviving if you get SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
In fact, according to the results, being consistently inactive puts you at the highest level of risk for complications caused by the virus. This means that a lack of exercise lands you in the same category of risk as being over 69 or having a history of an organ transplant.
The study found that consistent inactivity makes you:
- twice as likely to be hospitalized with COVID
- 1.73 times more likely to require admission to the ICU
- Almost two and half times more likely to die from the virus
Get moving for COVID protection
Surprisingly, although you may think that only those in the study who exercised consistently gained significant protection from COVID, the results proved that the truth is far different.
The researchers found that any amount of physical activity, even if you do it inconsistently, is enough to help guard you against the worst of the virus.
They found that the 79.2 percent of the study participants who exercised inconsistently still gained a high level of protection against hospitalization, ICU admission, and death, compared to consistent non-exercisers.
“What surprised me the most from this study was the strength of the association between inactivity and poor outcomes from COVID-19,” said study co-author Deborah Rohm Young, Ph.D., of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation. “Even after we included variables such as obesity and smoking in the analysis, we still saw inactivity was strongly associated with much higher odds of hospitalization, ICU admission, and death compared with moderate physical activity or any activity at all.”
Moderate is the way to go
Shoot for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, five days a week.
This could include:
- Brisk walking
- Light jogging or swimming
- Walking on a treadmill
- Water aerobics
To fall into the moderate category, you should be working out hard enough that you can’t sing, but can still talk.
This research is just one more reminder that exercise is good medicine, even in the face of an ongoing pandemic. The future may include vaccines and boosters to keep up with the various strains of COVID-19. But exercise should be one extra layer of protection.
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What Does Moderate Exercise Mean, Anyway? — Cleveland Clinic