August 24, 2022

Regular physical activity linked to lower risk of COVID-19 infection, adverse outcomes

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

This meta-analysis led by researchers in Spain finds that regular physical activity is associated with a lower risk of COVID-19 infection, severity, and mortality. The analysis included 1,853,610 adults from multiple countries worldwide—54% were women, and the average age was 53.

Compared with physically inactive individuals, those who included regular physical activity in their weekly routines had:

  • an 11% lower risk of COVID-19 infection
  • a 36% lower risk of hospital admission
  • a 44% lower risk of severe COVID-19
  • a 43% lower risk of death associated with COVID-19.

The maximum protective effect occurred at about 500 Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) minutes a week (ie, 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity), after which there was no further improvement.

These findings may help guide physicians and healthcare policy makers in making recommendations and developing guidelines with respect to the amount of physical activity that can help reduce the risk of adverse outcomes from COVID-19, the researchers say.


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