Regular Exercise May Prevent More Serious Covid-19 Side Effects

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Last Updated on May 5, 2021

Don’t have your COVID-19 vaccine yet? Here is another dose of preventative medicine: regular exercise. 

A recent study documented the health trajectory of almost 50,000 Californians who developed effects from Covid-19. Those who had been the most active before being diagnosed with Covid were least likely to be hospitalized or die as a result of their illness. 

Quick disclaimer: regular exercise is not a substitute for a vaccine. But the study does suggest that regular exercise — walking, running, swimming, bicycling — can substantially lower the risk of becoming seriously ill if one develops the disease. 

“Consistently meeting physical activity guidelines was strongly associated with a reduced risk for severe Covid-19 outcomes among infected adults, the report says in its conclusion. “We recommend efforts to promote physical activity be prioritized by public health agencies and incorporated into routine medical care.” 

The study was published Tuesday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. It is a collaborative effort involving a team of researchers and physicians at Kaiser Permanente Southern California, the University of California, San Diego, and other institutions. The focus was to compare information about how often people exercised and connect the dots to whether they had been hospitalized this past year because of Covid. 

It involved 48,440 adult men and women who used the Kaiser health-care system. Doctors and nurses asked patients how many days each week they exercised and the length of time they exercised, and then added that data to the patients’ medical records. 

Participants in the least-active group, those who almost never exercised, were hospitalized at twice the rate of people in the most-active group and were subsequently about two-and-a-half times more likely to die after contracting Covid. 

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