Apr 20, 2021
Study: Physical Activity Offers ‘Strong Protection’ from Worst COVID Outcomes

A recent study released this week shows that regular physical activity provides protection from the worst side effects of COVID-19 — hospitalization, intensive care admission, and, even, death.

The study, conducted by Kaiser Permanente and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, included nearly 50,000 people who tested positive for COVID-19.

Photo: Phil Roeder / Creative Commons

Even those who showed inconsistent exercise levels had lower odds for severe COVID-19 outcomes compared to people who aren’t active at all, the study found.

“This is a wake-up call for the importance of healthy lifestyles and especially physical activity,” Dr. Robert E. Sallis, a Kaiser family and sports medicine physician, said to TimesOfSanDiego.com. “Kaiser Permanente’s motivation is to keep people healthy, and this study truly shows how important that is during this pandemic and beyond.

“People who regularly exercise had the best chance of beating COVID-19, while people who were inactive did much worse.”

To conduct their research, they identified 48,440 COVID-positive adults from January 1 to October 21, 2020 — nearly 62% were women with a median age of 47 and a diverse racial makeup of the Southern California population, according to Kaiser.

Of the total, 6.4% were consistently active and 14.4% were consistently inactive. The remainder fell in the inconsistently active category. Among all COVID-19 patients in the study, 8.6% were hospitalized, 2.4% were admitted to the ICU, and 1.6% died.

“The results of the study show inactivity is strongly associated with poor COVID-19 outcomes,” according to a Kaiser statement. “Physical activity provided strong protection from hospitalization, ICU admission, and death among COVID-19 patients.

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“Being consistently inactive more than doubled the odds of hospitalization compared with being consistently active.”

The study found that patients who were mostly inactive had 1.73 times greater odds of ICU admission than those who were active. Their odds for death were 2.49 times greater.

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