Regular exercise, long beneficial for maintaining general health and an effective immune system, can help prevent severe complications from the global coronavirus pandemic, a study found.
The most deadly complication from COVID-19 infection, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), can be reduced, if not prevented, by a regular exercise and fitness program, according to University of Virginia School of Medicine professor Zhen Yan, Newsweek reported Friday.
Medical research findings "strongly support" exercise is effective against ARDS, which develops in between 3-17% of all COVID-19 patients, per the report.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data says between 20-42% of COVID-19 hospitalizations develop ARDS.
"Research conducted prior to the pandemic suggested that approximately 45% of patients who develop severe ARDS will die," according to a University of Virginia Health System press release, Newsweek reported.
Exercise releases an increasing amount of "extracellular superoxide dismutase" (EcSOD) into muscles, which helps prevent disease, Yan's study found.
"These findings strongly support that enhanced EcSOD expression from skeletal muscle or other tissues/organ, which can be redistributed to lung tissue, could be a viable preventative/therapeutic measures in reducing the risk and severity of ARDS," according to Yan.
The following exercises create the greatest production of EcSOD, per Yan:
- Weight lifting.
"Our findings suggest aerobic exercise is particularly potent in stimulating EcSOD expression," Yan wrote in an email to Newsweek. "With that said, weight training helps maintain or even increase muscle mass. More muscle mass will likely lead to more EcSOD production, hence more benefits."
Yan's research was conducted on mice running "about 10 miles/day."
"Generally speaking, 30 min moderate intensity exercise per day would be enough to have many of the health benefits," Yan's email read.
"It would be difficult to keep social distancing in the gym," he added to Newsweek. "Aerobic exercise can be easily done at home, such as [a] stationary bike, aerobic floor exercise and rowing machines. Of course, canoeing, biking and running outside with strict social distance are good options."
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