Does inactivity double the risk of dying from COVID-19?

A new US study shows that people who are less physically active are more likely to be hospitalised and die with COVID-19. According to these new calculations, being inactive puts you at a greater risk from COVID-19 than any other risk factor except age and having had an organ transplant. If this is right, it’s a big deal.

In the study, healthcare providers asked people about how much they exercised over a two-year period prior to the pandemic. Using this information, people were categorised into three groups. The first group – described as “consistently inactive” – exercised for no more than 10 minutes per week. The second group engaged in “some activity” – exercising for between 11 minutes and 149 minutes a week. The third group consistently met physical activity guidelines, exercising for 150 minutes a week or more. Exercise was defined as moderate to strenuous activity, an example being a “brisk walk”.

Compared to people who were exercising for at least 150 minutes a week, people who were consistently inactive were over twice as likely to be hospitalised and to die due to COVID-19. They also had a greater risk of hospitalisation and death than people doing some physical activity.

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