A study by the Cardiovascular Institute of the Hospital Clínico San Carlos carried out on patients hospitalized with covid-19 reveals that maintaining regular physical activity increases the chances of survival in these patients by up to eight times.
This study, published in the American journal Infectious Diseases and Therapy, was carried out in 520 patients between 18 and 70 years of age who had to be hospitalized for coronavirus in this hospital of the Community of Madrid during the first wave of the pandemic, between February 15 and April 15, 2020.
The methodology of the study
The data were collected through telephone surveys of the patients or their closest relatives to assess their physical condition according to the RAPA scale (Rapid Assessment of Physical Activity Scale) of the University of Washington, which measures the aerobic intensity of physical exercise, as well as muscle strength and flexibility, among other parameters.
The patients were divided into two groups: on the one hand, those who led a sedentary life (57.1%) and, on the other, those who exercised regularly two days a week for at least 30 minutes a day (42.9%). The objective was to retrospectively analyze the influence that the level of physical activity could have on the evolution of the disease during covid-19 infection.
Physical exercise, essential for health
The results of the study showed that the group that maintained a constant, light, or moderate physical activity had a mortality risk of 1.8% compared to 13.8% for the group with a sedentary lifestyle. The results were therefore decisive: people who exercise regularly are up to eight times more likely to survive than those who are sedentary.
As Julián Pérez-Villacastín, director of the cardiovascular institute of the Hospital Clínico San Carlos, states, until now “it was known that maintaining physical activity improves the usual cardiovascular risk factors, but now we have been able to prove in hospitalized patients with covid-19 the transcendental influence of this practice on the survival or mortality of these patients”.
The research shows that, among the group of people with a sedentary lifestyle, and compared to the more active group, there was a higher percentage of smokers and obese people, 6.7% versus 3.6%. A higher rate of respiratory failure (53.9% vs. 35.9%), greater renal failure (14.5% vs. 6.3%), and hospital stay were also observed in sedentary individuals.
“It was recommended that risk factors should be controlled and that physical exercise should be performed, but without much scientific evidence; however, from now on, regular physical exercise has become an essential factor since it reduces eight times the possibility of dying from covid-19 when the person needs to be admitted to hospital,” concluded Pérez-Villacastín.
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