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Exercise Prevents Severe COVID: Is There Any Truth To This Claim?

Exercise Prevents Severe COVID: Is There Any Truth To This Claim?

Everyone knows that physical activity has numerous benefits for our health. Recently, researchers have found that exercise prevents severe COVID-19. How does this happen exactly, and does exercise offer enough protection?

Studies show that exercise prevents severe COVID-19

One of the best ways to stay healthy is to engage in daily exercise. In fact, doctors recommend that people engage in at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. This can have a number of benefits, such as weight loss, strengthening the body, as well as lowering the risk of certain diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity1.

And in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have found that exercise prevents severe COVID-19 in some people.

According to one study conducted by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, people who exercised regularly were less likely to develop severe symptoms if they were infected with COVID-192. They also found that among patients who were infected with COVID, those who were inactive or had a sedentary lifestyle had a higher chance of being hospitalized.

Based on the data, persons who were inactive had a 120% higher chance of being hospitalized compared to physically active patients. In addition, they had a 110% higher risk of being in critical care.

People who are sedentary are also more prone to certain illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease. And based on what we know about COVID-19, both of these illnesses put a person at risk of severe symptoms.

How exactly does exercise help?

There is no doubt that exercise is very important when it comes to our health. In particular, one reason why exercise prevents severe COVID-19 might lie in the fact that exercise improves both cardiovascular and respiratory function3.

COVID-19 in particular has more severe effects such as pneumonia on patients with unhealthy lungs. It has also been found to cause damage to the cardiovascular system. This is the reason why some people infected with COVID-19 experience arrhythmia or even heart attacks.

Incidentally, the members of the population who are at risk for severe COVID are also more prone to heart and lung problems. This includes the elderly, persons with COPD, those with obesity, and diabetics4.

Given this information, it makes sense that engaging in regular exercise can help prevent severe COVID-19. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s okay to go out if you exercise regularly. COVID-19 can have different effects on the body, and a perfectly healthy person can still manifest severe symptoms.

Exercise is not enough

While it is true that exercise is an effective way to help lower your risk of severe COVID-19, it’s not enough. This is because you can still be infected even if you are healthy. There’s also the risk that you might spread the illness to more vulnerable persons. So it’s important to avoid being infected in the first place.

It’s important to practice the following safety measures to lower your risk of infection:

  • As much as possible, try to stay at home and avoid going out unless it’s necessary.
  • If you still go to the office, be sure to wear a mask, and keep your distance from others.
  • Wash your hands often, or use hand sanitizer or alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your face with dirty hands, especially if you’ve just been outside.
  • Don’t go to any crowded places, and if you need to go indoors such as in a supermarket, maintain social distancing.
  • Whenever you exercise, try to do so outdoors, and away from other people.
  • As soon as you are eligible to get vaccinated, do so. The vaccine is one of the best ways to prevent infection and has been proven to prevent severe COVID-19.

Learn more about Coronavirus here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

  1. Does exercise help protect against severe COVID-19? – Harvard Health,, Accessed August 24, 2021
  2. Exercise Can Reduce Severe COVID Symptoms,, Accessed August 24, 2021
  3. The COVID-19 pandemic and physical activity,, Accessed August 24, 2021
  4. Physical inactivity is associated with a higher risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes: a study in 48 440 adult patients | British Journal of Sports Medicine,, Accessed August 24, 2021
  5. Exercise may strongly protect against poor COVID-19 outcomes | CIDRAP,, Accessed August 24, 2021
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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated 4 weeks ago
Fact Checked by Kristel Dacumos-Lagorza