Physical inactivity is a risk factor for severe Covid 19 in adults


Physical inactivity is a risk factor for severe Covid 19 in adults

There are many risk factors for contracting severe Covid 19 – advanced age, obesity and certain medical conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Just recently, research has shown that lack of physical activity could also lead to more severe outcomes of Covid 19, especially in adults who have fallen prey to the disease. Physical activity is a necessity. It helps not only the body in maintaining standards for good health, but the mind as well.

Studies have shown that patients who were inactive for at least 2 years before the pandemic were more prone to be hospitalised and to require intensive care. The number of fatal cases was also noted to be higher with those who had less physical activity.

Research was done on more than 48,000 adults with positive Covid 19. The male-female ratio was 1:2. The average age and BMI (body mass index) were 47 and 31 respectively; the scale of BMI bordering on obesity. Half the patients had no existing medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, kidney or cardiovascular diseases. About 18% had one underlying medical condition and the rest had two or more.

All the patients had reported their physical activity between March 2018 and March 2020 and it was generally classified as inactive. Only 7% were meeting the required guidelines (150+ minutes per week). Some were doing 11-149 minutes per week while the others were just leading a sedentary lifestyle.

Controlling factors such as age, race and medical conditions were taken into consideration and it was found that those who were meeting the guidelines for physical activity were much less likely to be admitted to hospital and for ICU care as well. On the other hand, the ones who were physically inactive were much more prone to being admitted to hospital, requiring intensive care and with a smaller percentage dying as well.

Of course, the physical activity levels reported by the patients were their own assessments and not based on any clinical standards, so the study was observational. However, with the diversity of the study, the researchers noted that physical inactivity did lead to a higher risk for more severe Covid 19 infection. In fact, it has been mentioned as the highest risk factor after age and an organ transplant history.

With the pandemic causing lockdowns, many of the PA (physical activity), centres like gyms and parks were closed and this led to a dramatic reduction in the level of physical activity globally.
Now that the Covid vaccine programme is bringing some glimmer of hope, it is advised that, in addition to the vaccination, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, physical activity is also necessary to keep the risk of severe Covid 19 infection to a lower level. At least 150+ minutes of physical exercise a week is required. Even if it is just a brisk walk, it will make a difference to your health!

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