Higher cardiorespiratory fitness levels correlate to a lower risk of hospitalization for those who get COVID-19, according to a study reported in Mayo Clinic Proceedings (2021; 96 , 32–39). “This is one more reason to take that walk or get on the exercise bike,” said lead researcher Clinton Brawner, PhD, clinical exercise physiologist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. “It adds to the current understanding that exercise and good fitness levels are related to a lower risk of upper respiratory tract infections like COVID-19 and suggests that people may generally tolerate this infection better if they are more fit.”
Researchers collected data from more than 18,000 patients and conducted tests for COVID-19 on 1,181. Twenty-one percent tested positive for the virus, and 36% of those infected were hospitalized. Investigators then compared fitness data on those who were hospitalized and those who were not. “Our data suggest that striving to achieve a peak fitness level of at least 7.5 METs—equivalent to slow jogging—might be a good goal for our patients and general population to achieve a lower risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19,” said study author Jonathan Ehrman, PhD, associate program director of preventive cardiology at Henry Ford Hospital.
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