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New Study Shows Exercise is Linked to Lower Risk of Severe COVID-19 Outcomes
A new study of Kaiser Permanente adult patients in Southern California found that patients who were consistently active or engaged in some physical activity had a lower risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 with less severe health outcomes than those who were inactive. The study findings, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, were based on data taken from electronic health records (EHRs), a data system that captures all aspects of patient care, including diagnoses, inpatient and outpatient encounters, pharmacy encounters, and laboratory tests.
Physical activity was assessed using Exercise Vital Signs (EVS), and patients were asked how many days per week they engage in moderate to strenuous exercise (like a brisk walk). Each patient fell into 1 of 5 categories, ranging from always inactive (10 minutes or less of exercise per week) to always active (150 minutes or more of exercise per week).
The findings revealed that patients who were consistently inactive were 191% more likely to be hospitalized and 391% more likely to die than those who were consistently active. Furthermore, physically inactive patients had higher odds of adverse COVID-19 outcomes across all racial and ethnic categories, in most age categories, in all BMI categories, and for those with and without diagnoses of cardiovascular disease or hypertension.
“Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of cardiometabolic diseases and premature mortality, improve immune function, and reduce inflammatory responses, all of which may explain the consistent associations of physical activity with less severe COVID-19 outcomes,” the research authors assert. “Adults, regardless of demographic category or chronic disease status, should be encouraged to reduce their physical inactivity as another COVID-19 mitigation strategy.”
Mayo Clinic Doctor on Preventing Sickness During the Holiday Season
As RSV, influenza, and COVID-19 circulate during the holidays, posing a triple threat to health, the Mayo Clinic has released a video with a few tips for preventative strategies to avoid infections. In the video, Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a pediatric infectious diseases physician with the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center, notes that there are very high rates of influenza across the country, and there are increasing rates of hospitalizations, especially amongst children.
Rajapakse emphasizes key tips for a healthier holiday season: "We really recommend everyone get their flu vaccine this season. Anyone over 6 months of age is eligible. And from the data we're seeing, the flu vaccine this year is a good match for the circulating strains that we have seen early in this flu season.”
Another tip: wear a mask in indoor places while traveling. “That mask protects against COVID-19 but also these other respiratory viruses that we’re seeing circulate,” she explains. “…For people who are at higher risk or who may be around people who are high risk, it's especially important to go back to wearing masks in any indoor space where you're around other people. This is also true for traveling — if you're in airports, on airplanes, taking a train or bus."
Other preventative strategies include taking a test for COVID-19 before social gatherings, and washing hands to reduce and prevent infection transmissions.
Learn more and access the Mayo Clinic video.
See more ANSI member efforts in the ANSI COVID-19 Resource Webpage Highlighting Standardization Community Response.