More exercise linked to less severe COVID-19 outcomes


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According to a study published on December 15, 2022 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The study of nearly 200,000 adults showed an association between physical activity and improved COVID-19 outcomes in key demographic groups, whether the patients had chronic health problems. Black, Hispanic, and Asian patients had a higher risk of adverse effects than white patients, consistent with previous research. However, within each racial and ethnic group, more exercise was consistently associated with less severe COVID-19 outcomes.

“The main message is that every little bit of physical activity matters,” said study lead author Deborah Rohm Young, Ph.D., director of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Behavioral Research Division. Evaluation. “The more exercise the better, regardless of a person’s race, ethnicity, age, gender, or chronic illness.”

This research builds on previous studies by looking closely at the association between exercise and COVID-19 outcomes across all demographic groups and chronic disease.

In this study, Young and his colleagues analyzed the electronic health records of 194,191 adult patients at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California who were diagnosed with COVID-19 between January 2020 and May 2021, before widespread vaccination against COVID-19.

All patients had reported their level of physical activity before infection in a routine measure known as the Exercise Vital Sign. Each patient fell into 1 of 5 categories ranging from always inactive – 10 minutes of exercise or less per week, to always active – 150 minutes of exercise per week.

Statistical analysis showed that the more physical activity a patient reported, the lower the risk of hospitalization or death within 90 days of being diagnosed with COVID-19. This trend was consistent across all levels of activity, with still-active patients being at the lowest risk.

After exercise was also linked to lower rates of hospitalization or death in patients with certain underlying chronic conditions, such as hypertension, heart diseaseor obesity – which are generally associated with an increased risk of poor COVID-19 outcomes.

“Our results impress on their patients the need to emphasize to their patients that getting vaccinated and being more physically active are two of the most important things you can do to prevent serious consequences from COVID-19,” said the Senior study author Robert E. Sallis, MD, family and sports medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center.

Young said, “This is a powerful opportunity to develop stronger policies supporting physical activity as a pandemic-mitigation strategy. Our study provides new evidence to inform appropriate interventions across demographic groups.

More information:
Deborah Rohm Young et al, American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2022).

Provided by
Kaiser Permanente

Quote: More Exercise Linked to Less Severe COVID-19 Outcomes (December 15, 2022) Retrieved December 15, 2022 from

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