The greatest protection against serious consequences after Covid-19 infection is primarily through vaccination. However, new research has found that the shot’s effectiveness may be enhanced by physical activity.
A new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that increased physical activity levels appeared to be associated with greater efficacy from the first series of Covid-19 vaccinations.
John Patricios, a professor of sports and exercise medicine at the University of Wits in Johannesburg and co-author of the study, told CNBC Make It:
So how often and how hard should you exercise to get the most out of your Covid-19 vaccination?
2.5 hours of exercise per week may increase protection against severe consequences of Covid in vaccinated people
Researchers found that vaccinated people who were most protected from severe consequences such as hospitalization after Covid-19 infection followed the following exercise guidelines:
- frequency: They completed at least 150 minutes or 2½ hours of physical activity each week.
- Strength: Their physical activity was of moderate intensity. In other words, heart rate during exercise was between 70% and 79% of maximum heart rate.
Participants in this group were 2.8 times less likely to develop severe Covid-19 consequences than those who rarely did. exercise. Or, put simply, their vaccine was 25% more effective at protecting them from these outcomes than sedentary people.
Videos embedded in the study highlighted visual representations of weightlifting and running as part of the exercises performed by the group.
“Higher levels of physical activity may stimulate immune responses more positively,” says Dr. Elizabeth Joy, Senior Medical Director of Wellness and Nutrition at Intermountain Healthcare. He was not involved in this research. .
“As a result, we observed a reduction in disease burden.”
But even vaccinated people who exercised between 60 and 149 minutes were 1.4 times less likely to have a severe case of Covid infection.
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Researchers analyzed data from nearly 200,000 domestically vaccinated adults, including both men and women, collected from South Africa’s largest health insurer. At the time this study was conducted, only the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was available.
Data included Covid-19 PCR test results from February to October 2021. A wearable device was also used to track physical activity minutes, steps, and heart rate data for each person.
Exercise may reduce the likelihood of serious Covid consequences, even in unvaccinated people
“There was another study that showed better results in people who got the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week in people who were infected with COVID-19 and who were not vaccinated.” Patricios says.
“They’re in the hospital less, they’re on ICUs and ventilators, and they’re dying.”
Similar to his study, a study was conducted on more than 48,000 participants with Covid before a vaccine was available to determine whether exercise was associated with a reduced risk of serious consequences from the disease. was judged.
Researchers found that people who consistently walked or exercised before infection were about half as likely to be hospitalized due to Covid.
“This just adds to the evidence base that people who are more physically active are healthier,” says Joy.
While exercise has been widely studied to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases such as dementia and cancer, “physical activity is also an effective strategy to prevent communicable diseases like Covid-19. ‘ says Joy.
When it comes to physical activity to improve your health, she says, “there’s nothing wrong, there’s something good.” [and] The more, the better. ”
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