A new research review is offering some news that may help curb your risk of catching or experiencing severe symptoms from COVID-19.
The large-scale international review has found that regular exercise significantly reduces the risk of COVID. And if you do get it, the study found that routine moderate and/or vigorous exercise dramatically reduces the odds of serious illness, hospitalization, or death.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that regular physical activity might contribute to a more effective immune response that may provide enhanced protective immunity to infections. This could be why a relationship between exercise consistency and COVID infection was found.
The review included more than 1.8 million men and women with an average age of 53. There were 16 studies used from 9 counties across continents.
Researchers found that participants who reported being routinely active were 11 percent less likely to contract SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Among those who were infected, regular activity was linked with a 36 percent lower risk of hospitalization, 34 percent risk of severe illness, and 43 percent lower risk of death.
They found that 2 hours and 20 minutes of moderately intense exercise per week, or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous activity, offered the best protection.
Exercise may help with COVID immunity and resilience in a few ways. It can reduce stress and inflammation, boost heart health and immunity, as well as reduce COVID risk factors like obesity and high blood pressure.
People who exercise regularly, however, may also have more healthy habits that contribute to their seemingly enhanced ability to withstand becoming infected or severely ill with COVID.
Diet and sleep, for example, which can play a role in inflammation, blood pressure, and weight, may also help.
Beginning an exercise routine or continuing to exercise is unlikely to provide full immunity from infection or illness, but this review suggests it might help. It is not a substitute for vaccination or other public health measures.