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People who exercise fare better against COVID, research says

A new study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine supports what many in the health and fitness industry have been saying all along: Exercise is medicine.

Or, in this case, regular exercise may help you avoid bad outcomes if you catch COVID.

Researchers compared the hospitalizations, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, and death rates of more than 48,000 COVID patients. They found that those who skimped on exercise didn’t do as well as their active peers. 

All COVID patients included in the study had 3 records about their physical activity levels from prior health visits in the Kaiser Permanente Southern California database between 2018 and 2020. With this data, researchers discovered that regular couch potatoes had a higher risk of hospitalization, ICU admission, and death from COVID than patients who met physical activity guidelines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week to stay healthy. Plus, at least 2 resistance training workouts. 

Some examples of moderate-intensity activities include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Doubles tennis
  • Biking slower than 10 miles per hour

Vigorous-intensity activities include:

  • Running
  • Singles tennis
  • Hiking uphill 

Resistance training can include:

  • Lifting weights
  • Body weight exercises
  • Resistance band exercises

The more you move, the better. However, even small amounts of physical activity can offer benefits. So, if you’re not getting regular exercise now, start with something. 

Just keep in mind that exercise can’t replace standard medical care. Be sure to seek medical help if you experience any COVID symptoms.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • New loss of taste or smell

The CDC offers a COVID self-checker tool to help you determine if and when to get medical care.

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