News & Insights 5 November 2021

Physical activity could reduce COVID-19 severity

During the Covid-19 pandemic and various lockdowns, many of us became less active than we had been in normal life. This in turn could have had a negative impact on the severity of Covid-19 symptoms. Recent research has found that patients with Covid-19 who were consistently inactive were more likely to experience severe symptoms and/or be hospitalised than patients who were consistently meeting physical activity guidelines. The study also found that the negative effect of physical inactivity on Covid-19 severity was even greater than the effects of smoking:

“Physical inactivity was the strongest risk factor across all outcomes, compared with the commonly cited modifiable risk factors, including smoking, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and cancer.”

In another study, it was discovered that people who walked quickly developed severe Covid-19 at much lower rates than slower walkers, even if the quick striders had obesity, a known risk factor for severity of Covid-19.

The reason why regular physical activity is such a powerful risk-reducing tool is because it has been shown to improve your ability to regulate your immune system, which may be essential for avoiding the severe symptoms of Covid-19. It does this in a number of ways, such as reducing inflammation and increasing the presence of certain immune cells, both of which support your body’s defence mechanisms. Research, published in Sports Medicine journal, also found that physical activity can boost the effectiveness of vaccines by up to 40%. The potential for regular physical activity to boost the immune system and lower Covid-19 severity should be promoted to those looking for ways to protect themselves against the virus, amongst numerous other physical and mental health benefits.

Beyond the protection from severe Covid-19 symptoms, research has also found that individuals who experienced the greatest reduction in stress over time during the pandemic were those who maintained their activity levels or became more active. So, increasing your activity levels could not only reduce your chances of becoming ill, but also help manage stress, which in turn comes with many additional health benefits.

Physical activity doesn’t need to be long and intense to be effective. Studies have shown that bouts of low and moderate activities, such as walking for less than an hour, can provide a range of immune benefits. Covid-19 required us to spend more time indoors to stay safe, which for some meant a reduction in structured activities and increased sedentary time. But being inside does not mean you have to be less active; focusing on everyday physical activity unlocks the therapy window and gives us more options to be active to benefit our physical and mental health. This in turn can protect our immune function and reduce the risk of experiencing severe symptoms of Covid-19.

If you are faced with reasons to spend less time outdoors, like winter, you can still find activity in your everyday life, and KiActiv® can help find what works for you. There are many effective ways to be active around the house, any activity such as household chores or cutting the grass count towards boosting your immune system and can help to give you a bit more peace of mind when you venture out.

The KiActiv® Team