A certified specialist in pulmonary medicine and critical care, Dr. Mike Hansen has been creating content throughout the pandemic dispelling medical misinformation and clarifying what people should know about the coronavirus and the vaccine. In his latest video, he breaks down the findings of a recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, which is the first of its kind to directly examine the link between exercise and serious Covid illness.
The institute which carried out this study has historically had the practice of determining a patient’s exercise “vital sign” by asking how frequently they engage in moderate to strenuous physical activity, and for how long. This went on for years prior to the pandemic, meaning that for this study, researchers were able to survey more than 48,000 adults who had been diagnosed with Covid between January and November 2020 before the vaccination rollout started.
The respondents were divided into three groups; those whose activity surpassed 150 minutes per week, those who were active from 11 to 149 minutes per week, and those who were consistently inactive, with 10 minutes or less of exercise per week. Pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure were also taken into account.
“The big takeaway from the study is that people who were consistently inactive had a significantly higher risk of hositalization, ICU admission, and death after getting Covid-19 compared to those who were active for at least 150 minutes per week,” says Hansen. The middle group, meanwhile, did have some protection against severe illness or death from Covid-19, but not as much as the first group.
“This was one study looking at the correlation between exercise and severity of Covid illness,” he adds. “More studies will be needed to confirm these findings, but based on what we have, it’s one more reason to encourage and promote physical activity for everyone.”
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