Exercise proves an effective vaccine

Just as it seems COVID-19 might be running out of puff, people with plenty of puff have been giving COVID a run for its money.

A recently published systematic review that looked at physical activity and risk of infection, severity and mortality of COVID-19 across 1.9m adults in 16 studies has reiterated that exercise helps us resist COVID.

The study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reports that people who exercise regularly had a 36 percent lower risk of hospitalization and a 43 percent lower risk of death from COVID compared with those who were not active.

And their risk of getting COVID at all was also lower (11%), as was the risk of becoming seriously ill (44%).

People who followed guidelines recommending at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week seemed to get the most benefit, but even those who exercised less than that were more protected against illness than those who did not work out at all.

The study suggests a number of possible reasons for the lower infection rates among those who exercise, including reduced systemic inflammation, enhanced natural killer cell cytolytic activity, increased T-cell proliferative capacity, lower circulatory levels of inflammatory cytokines (ie, decreased ‘inflamm-ageing’) and increased neutrophil phagocytic activity, which can all enhance viral control.

"Another possible explanation for our findings is the level of cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness of the individuals, as both likely play a pivotal role in explaining the protective effect of physical activity on COVID-19 hospitalisation, severity and mortality.”

"Our findings highlight the protective effects of engaging in sufficient physical activity as a public health strategy, with potential benefits to reduce the risk of severe COVID-19,” the study concluded.

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