The impact of physical activity on coronavirus

Emerging evidence suggests that physical inactivity may be linked to more severe COVID-19 infection and a heightened risk of dying from the disease. In fact, outside of vaccinations, social distancing and wearing a face mask, engaging in regular physical activity may be the most important action individuals can take to prevent severe COVID-19 and its complications, including death. The full report from a large observational study in the USA, published in the BMJ, can be found here.

Further to this, studies reported in 2020 “sedentary behaviour, exercise and COVID19: immune and metabolic implications in obesity and it’s comorbidities” suggest that breaking up prolonged siting time with short bouts of light activity, and even standing, may have a beneficial effect on various metabolic parameters including insulin sensitivity and blood glucose, which will indirectly have beneficial effects on the immune system. Therefore, breaking up sedentary time may help optimise immune health.

This new evidence may be of particular use to local authorities and public health teams in their work to prepare local communities for future outbreaks of coronavirus and potentially other communicable diseases and help mitigate the effects of a disease which is likely to become systemic. It should also form part of ongoing health promotion work to help protect those members of the community that either can’t have or won’t have the coronavirus vaccine.

This message is especially important given the increased barriers to achieving regular physical activity during lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions