Opinion

An eye-opening study found that men and women who worked at least 30 minutes on most days were four times more likely to survive Covid-19 than those who were inactive. Research Exercise and Corona virus Results among nearly 200,000 adults in Southern California.

Research shows that almost any amount of exercise can reduce people’s risk of serious coronavirus infection. Even people who exercised for 11 minutes a week—yes, a week—were less likely to be hospitalized or die than those who were less active.

Bernard J. of Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles. Robert Salis, a clinical professor at Tyson School of Medicine and lead author of the new study, said exercise has more power than we thought to protect people from severe Covid-19.

The findings add further evidence that any amount of physical activity can help reduce the severity of coronavirus infections, especially given the current message that holiday travel and gatherings are on the rise and Covid cases continue to rise.

Science already provides great support for the idea that regular and moderate exercise boosts the body’s immune system Response And it helps us to avoid it in general Respiratory tract infection Or recover quickly if we catch a bug. In 2011 ResearchAdults who work regularly are about half as likely to get the flu or similar infections as inactive people, and 40 percent less likely to report having a chronic illness.

Regular exercise may improve the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines.

A similar trend is emerging in research on Covid, with many studies showing that fit and active people are significantly less likely to be hospitalized or die from the virus than people who are in shape. Salis led a study last year, for example, that found more than 48,000 patients in the Kaiser Permanente health care system in Southern California who did not exercise had a higher risk of contracting the virus, including death, than patients who did not. Very active at the same age.

But that study, though relatively large, focused primarily on two binary groups: those who never exercise and those who exercise all the time, bypassing the vast majority of people who occasionally exercise, leaving unanswered the important question of how much — or, indeed, what. It’s as small as it gets – exercise can help most of us protect ourselves from serious Covid-19.

So, for the new study published this month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Salis and his colleagues again turned to the anonymous records of Kaiser Permanente patients. Since 2009, that health care system has included physical activity as one of the important indicators that health care workers check during every patient visit, meaning they ask patients how many days a week they exercise, especially walking, and how many minutes they exercise.

The researchers looked at the records of 194,191 Kaiser patients who were diagnosed with Covid between January 1, 2020 and May 31, 2021, and who had seen a doctor at least three times in recent years, so their records mentioned more about exercise. Habits.

The researchers averaged that data into groups of five, taking into account how often they moved and whether their habits had changed over the years. The least active group included those who regularly exercised for less than 10 minutes per week. The most active consistently did at least 150 minutes per week, which is the amount of physical activity recommended by federal health agencies.

Among them were groups whose exercise habits varied from one medical appointment to another but generally moved more than 10 minutes but less than an hour per week, and others who regularly exercised for at least an hour each week. Less than 150 minutes.

The patients, in other words, represent the physical activities of most average people.

Next, the researchers checked everyone’s medical records for conditions known to contribute to severe Covid outcomes, including obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Finally, they cross-referenced information about hospitalizations or covid and people’s exercise habits.

The ties are “very strong, across the board,” Salis said. The more exercise a person does, the less likely he or she is to be hospitalized or die after contracting the virus, he said.

The differences were even greater between those who did not exercise and those who exercised at least 150 minutes per week. Those who did not exercise were 391 percent more likely to die after contracting Covid than men and women who were overweight, had high blood pressure or heart disease.

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But even among those who did less, managing 10 or 15 minutes a week, that physical activity translated into stronger odds of Covid.

“It’s a very easy and inexpensive way to protect yourself,” Salis said.

The data in the study was collected before widespread coronavirus vaccines were available, but Salis thinks the results will be similar to people who have been vaccinated.

“The results support the ubiquity of physical activity for health benefits,” said Ai-Min Lee, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who studies physical activity and health but was not involved in this research.

Although the research is limited. People self-reported their physical activity; It was not actually monitored. The researchers looked not at preventing the corona virus but at improving the effects of covid. And, while they found a strong link between being proactive and avoiding severe Covid, other factors may be at play. People who exercise may have higher incomes, for example, or other lifestyle factors that affect their health, although the researchers try to account for these factors.

Overall, Sallis said, “The data is very clear and very strong. To reduce your risk of severe effects of Covid, get vaccinated and walk.

Have a fitness question? email YourMove@washpost.com And we will answer your question in the next column.

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