Symptoms and diagnosis of pneumonia
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A study of over one million people has found that those who exercised regularly were less likely to contract pneumonia and less likely to die from it. The exact amount of exercise needed to achieve these benefits was not clarified by the study. The corresponding author, Dr Setor Kunutsor, said: “Though our study could not determine the amount and intensity of physical activity, which is essential to prevent pneumonia, some of the results suggest that walking for 30 minutes once a week has a protective effect on death due to pneumonia.” He noted these benefits are made more important due to the increased rates of pneumonia during the winter and the currently circulating pandemic of COVID-19.
Previous studies with smaller sample sizes have had mixed results in correlating exercise to pneumonia rates.
The new study examined 10 different population groups that totalled to over one million participants.
They found that people who were not physically active had a higher risk of developing pneumonia and of dying from it.
The research was published in the journal GeroScience which examines the science of aging.
The association between pneumonia and exercise was found to be consistent across all groups, ignoring other factors that predispose someone to the disease.
Pneumonia is known to be more common with age and can be made more likely by lifestyle choices such as smoking.
Other factors that have been linked to pneumonia risk are BMI and socioeconomic status.
The researchers say that the findings could be of help to people who are at greater risk.
The study was not able to establish a causal relationship between exercise and pneumonia risk.
It is possible that both are impacted by some third factor of behaviour or health.
Exercise amounts were also self-reported, introducing a potential source of bias that could impact the results.
Future studies examining this connection are likely to use biometric devices or accelerometers to measure the amount of exercise to a greater degree of accuracy.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lung tissue caused by bacteria or viruses.
This makes it more common in people who have compromised immune systems, such as from organ transplants.
Pneumonia leads to the development of fluid in the lungs, limiting the ability to take in oxygen.
The immune response to pneumonia can worsen inflammation and oxygen absorption.
Pneumonia is more common among people with existing medical conditions.
This also increases the severity of the condition, leading to an increased risk of hospitalisation and death.
The most common comorbidities (diseases that occur alongside pneumonia) were chronic respiratory diseases and chronic heart diseases.
Diabetes has also been linked to an increase risk of pneumonia.
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