Exercise can cut Covid death risk by more than a third, study suggests

21 April 2021, 06:09

Regular exercise cuts the risk of dying from infectious diseases such as Covid-19 by more than a third
Regular exercise cuts the risk of dying from infectious diseases such as Covid-19 by more than a third. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Regular exercise cuts the risk of dying from infectious diseases such as Covid-19 by more than a third, according to new research.

An international team of scientists found 150 minutes a week of physical activity that gets you slightly out of breath can have a massive impact on immunity.

It suggests exercise can reduce fatalities by 37 per cent, the danger of even catching similar diseases by 31 per cent and boost the effectiveness of vaccines by up to 40 per cent.

Professor Sebastien Chastin, who led the study, said: "You don't need to go to a gym, as dancing around the living room, going for a run or walk is just as effective.

"In this period of pandemic being outside is better than in a gym or closed environment.

"The clear message is 'stay active' - it's not only good for your mental and general health, but we now have the proof that it is also good for boosting your immunity.

"You need to keep it up as it's about regular exercise and making time to build it into your day."

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Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) conducted the full-scale systematic review of 16,698 worldwide epidemiological studies published between January 1980 and April 2020 with world-renowned immunologists and epidemiologists from other institutions.

Prof Chastin, a specialist in health behaviour dynamics at GCU, added that physical activity "strengthens the first line of defence of the human immune system and a higher concentration of immune cells" in the world's first study into the link between exercise and Covid-19 immunity.

The research has been published in the Sports Medicine journal and findings have already gone to the Scottish Government and other governments around the world as well as public health experts and healthcare professionals.

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It comes as Boris Johnson said people who contract Covid-19 could be sent antiviral tablets to take at home under plans drawn up by a new government taskforce.

The prime minister said the antivirals taskforce will help identify new medicines for the treatment of coronavirus.

He told the 5pm Downing Street press conference that the drugs could reassure people that the country could "continue on our path towards freedom".

"This means for example that if you test positive for the virus that there might be a tablet you could take at home to stop the virus in its tracks and significantly reduce the chance of infection turning into more serious disease," Mr Johnson added.

The UK leader said there was nothing in the current data to suggest that they could not proceed with the the next stage of unlocking under the roadmap as planned.

However, he added that most scientists are "firmly of the view" that there will be a third wave of the disease at some point this year.