New research has found that people who exercise regularly have a better chance of surviving COVID-19 compared to those who are consistently inactive.


The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BMJ), observed nearly 50,000 Californians who developed the disease between January 1, 2020, and October 21, 2020.

The researchers and physicians at Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center in Southern California, the University of California, San Diego, and other institutions found that those who regularly exercised before falling ill were less likely to be hospitalised, admitted to the ICU, and die as a result of their illness.

To arrive at their conclusion, the experts drew anonymised records for the 48,440 adult men and women who used the Kaiser health care system, had their exercise habits checked at least three times in recent years, and, in 2020, had been diagnosed with COVID-19.


The study grouped the subjects’ workout routines, with the least active (consistently inactive) group exercising for 10 minutes or less most weeks; the most active for at least 150 minutes a week; and the somewhat active group occupying a middle ground.

It gathered data about their known risk factors for severe covid, including their age, smoking habits, weight, and any history of cancer, diabetes, organ transplants, kidney problems, and other serious underlying conditions.

The researcher ended up with arresting results. People who almost never exercised wound up hospitalised because of covid at twice the rate of people in the most active group, and were two-and-a-half times more likely to die.


Compared to people in the somewhat active group, they were hospitalised about 20 percent more and were 30 percent more likely to die.

Of the other common risk factors for severe disease, only advanced age, and organ transplants increased the likelihood of hospitalisation and mortality from covid more than being inactive.

According to New York Times, Robert Sallis, a family and sports medicine doctor at the Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center, suggested that “being sedentary was the greatest risk factor” for severe illness, “unless someone was elderly or an organ recipient”.

Sallis, who is the study co-author, also explained that while “you can’t do anything about those other risks, you can exercise.”


“I would never suggest that someone who does regular exercise should consider not getting the vaccine. But until they can get it, I think regular exercise is the most important thing they can do to lessen their risk. And doing regular exercise will likely be protective against any new variants, or the next new virus out there,” he added.

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