Exercising about 20 minutes a day may reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 or developing serious illness

According to a new study published Monday in The British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The researchers analyzed the results of 16 studies published between November 2019 and March 2022, which included 1,853,610 adults from around the world with an average age of 53 years.

Data showed that those who regularly devoted time to physical activity were 11% less likely to be infected with COVID-19, 36% less likely to be hospitalized due to the virus, 44% less risk of developing serious illness and a 43% lower risk of death from the virus than people who are not physically active.

“Anyone can benefit from being more active, regardless of age, gender, or physical ability,” says Dr. Yasmin Ezzatvar, one of the study’s researchers. Fortune.

What is the magic amount of exercise? The combined data used the Task Metabolic Equivalent (MET) which calculates the amount of calories burned per minute of activity. The most effective amount, according to the researchers, is 500 METs, which is equivalent to 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week.

This is in accordance with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adults get 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise plus two days of strength training.

One in four Americans are “inactive,” meaning they don’t engage in physical activity outside of their daily work, according to CDC.

Researchers highlight the effects of physical activity on the body’s immune system.

“There is evidence that regular physical activity may contribute to a more effective immune response, providing enhanced protective immunity against infections, which may explain the relationship between exercise consistency and COVID-19 infection. “, says Ezzatvar.

According to CDC.

Study participants were involved in swimming, biking, volleyball, running, and lifting, as well as other activities like walking or pedaling in place. Ezzatvar encourages adding muscle-building activities to your routine at least two days a week, including weight training, yoga or pilates, or resistance band training. She says there are plenty of ways to fit activity into your day without having to drop everything and hit the gym.

“This can be done in the context of work, sport and leisure or transport,” she says. “But also through dancing, playing, and daily household chores, like gardening and cleaning.”

Engage as many muscle groups as possible for maximum benefit, says Ezzatvar, noting the “physiological adaptations” that occur during regular physical activity.

“It’s time to think of exercise as medicine,” says Ezzatvar. “It’s never too late to start being physically active.”

The combined studies were observational, so further research is needed to investigate the potential benefits of routine physical activity on COVID-19 response.

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