1. In this study, engaging in regular physical activity had a lower risk of infection, hospitalization, severe COVID-19 illness, and COVID-19 related death compared to inactive peers.

2. The greatest benefit was achieved at 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week.

Evidence Rating Level: 1 (Excellent)

Physical activity is known to have a multitude of beneficial health effects as well as enhancing immunity. To date, the link between regular physical activity and COVID-19 outcomes has been poorly understood. As a result, the aim of the present systematic review and meta-analysis was to quantify the association between physical activity and the risk of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, severe illness and death in adults.

Of 4063 identified records, 16 studies were included in the systematic review (n=1 853 610) from database inception to March 2022. Studies were eligible if they studied the effects of physical activity (questionnaires or objective measures) on COVID-19 outcomes. Studies were excluded If participants self-reported COVID-19 infection or were hospitalized. Quality of the evidence was evaluated using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) was used to evaluate. Statistical analysis was performed using a random-effects inverse-variance model.

Results demonstrated that engaging in regular physical activity had a lower risk of infection, hospitalization, severe COVID-19 illness, and COVID-19 related death compared to inactive peers. Furthermore, the greatest benefit was achieved at 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week. Despite these findings, the study was limited by the potential for the pooled estimates to be confounded. Nonetheless, these results may help guide physicians in encouraging physical activity among patients to reduce the burden of COVID-19 health outcomes.

 Click to read the study in British Journal of Sports Medicine 

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