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physical activity COVID study: Positive beautiful female runner exercising outdoors on sunny summer morning.

Physically-Active People Fare Better Against COVID-19, Study Says

We all know how important regular movement is for our health and well-being. Physical activity is associated with everything from lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer to improved mental health, sleep quality, and longevity. And, now, we can add to the mix: decreases risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms.

A new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine is the first to formally recognize the role that exercise status plays in COVID-19 outcomes.

The study compared the hospitalization rates, ICU admissions, and mortality rates of COVID-19 patients, and found that those who were inactive fared notably worse than those who regularly met physical activity guidelines.

The researchers pulled data on nearly 50,000 patients across the Kaiser Permanente Southern California database who had at least three records about their physical activity status in the system between 2018 and 2020. (This ensured that the researchers had as clear a picture as possible of each individual’s exercise levels.) After analyzing the data, they found that people who regularly met the physical activity guidelines (at least 150 minutes per week) were less likely to be hospitalized, enter the ICU, or die from COVID-19 than both those that did some activity and those who did none at all.

So what does this mean for all of us looking to support our health throughout the pandemic? Get moving. The study authors say it best: “Short of vaccination and following public health safety guidelines such as social distancing and mask use, engaging in regular [physical activity] may be the single most important action individuals can take to prevent severe COVID-19 and its complications, including death.” Powerful stuff, right?

If you’re newly inspired to make movement a regular part of your day, check out this list of household items that can double as workout equipment, or try these 15 bodyweight exercises that show major results.

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