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Regular Physical Activity Cuts Risk for Severe COVID-19

WEDNESDAY, April 14, 2021 -- Among adults infected with COVID-19, those consistently meeting physical activity guidelines have a significantly reduced risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes compared with inactive individuals, according to a study published online April 13 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Robert Sallis, from the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fontana, California, and colleagues compared hospitalization rates, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, and mortality for patients with COVID-19 based on self-reported physical activity. The analysis included 48,440 adult patients with a COVID-19 diagnosis between Jan. 1, 2020, and Oct. 21, 2020, with at least three exercise vital sign measurements from March 19, 2018, to March 18, 2020.

The researchers found that patients with COVID-19 who were consistently inactive (0 to 10 minutes/week) had a greater risk for COVID-19-related hospitalization (odds ratio [OR], 2.26; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.81 to 2.83), admission to the ICU (OR, 1.73; 95 percent CI, 1.18 to 2.55), and death (OR, 2.49; 95 percent CI, 1.33 to 4.67) versus patients who were consistently meeting physical activity guidelines (150+ minutes/week). Similar findings were seen when comparing patients who were consistently inactive to patients doing some physical activity (11 to 149 minutes/week), including a greater risk for COVID-19-related hospitalization (OR, 1.20; 95 percent CI, 1.10 to 1.32), admission to the ICU (OR, 1.10; 95 percent CI, 0.93 to 1.29), and death (OR, 1.32; 95 percent CI, 1.09 to 1.60).

"We recommend efforts to promote physical activity be prioritized by public health agencies and incorporated into routine medical care," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to Roche/Genentech.

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