Exercise is essential for maintaining good health and well-being, and the benefits are numerous. Regular physical activity can improve cardiovascular health, strengthen muscles and bones, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and even boost mood and cognitive function.
Recently, more research has emerged revealing another huge benefit of exercise. Individuals who engage in regular physical activity have a significantly lower risk of infection, hospitalization, severe illness, and death related to COVID-19 compared to their inactive peers.
Exercise Protects Your Health
Regular physical activity has been long known to have a protective effect against the severity of respiratory infections. This is because regular exercise helps to boost the immune system, making the body better equipped to fight off illness. Additionally, regular exercise can improve lung function and cardiovascular health, which in turn can help to prevent the development of respiratory illnesses.
Regular physical activity also helps to reduce the effects of obesity and type 2 diabetes. These risk factors have been identified as major contributors to severe illness and death related to COVID-19.
New Data on Exercise and COVID-19
A systematic review recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine looked at data from 16 studies involving 1,853,610 participants and found that regular physical activity can have a significant impact on reducing the risk of COVID-19-related outcomes.
Specifically, the study found that individuals who engaged in regular physical activity had an 11% lower risk of infection, 36% lower risk of hospitalization, 34% lower risk of severe COVID-19 illness, and 43% lower risk of COVID-19-related death compared to their inactive peers.
Helpful Tips for Being More Active
Since it’s clear from this research that exercise plays an important role in reducing the risks of COVID-19, here are some tips on how you can make sure you get enough physical activity:
● Try doing something active for at least 20 minutes every day. Even if you don’t want to lift weights or go to the gym, activities like walking, jogging, dancing, or gardening can be enough to make a difference.
● If you can’t do 20 minutes every day, aim for longer periods over fewer days. Health guidelines generally recommend at least 150 minutes per week, but you can divide this up in whatever way works best for your schedule.
● Set yourself reachable goals. Start small if you’re new to exercising, and gradually build up your strength and endurance.
● Listen to your body. While it’s important to challenge yourself, make sure you don’t overdo it. If something hurts or feels wrong, take a break and consult a doctor.
If you are currently sick with COVID-19, you should wait until you have recovered before engaging in any physical activity.