Coronavirus: Does Exercise Reduce the Risk of Death?

Coronavirus: Does Exercise Reduce the Risk of Death?

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How can we protect ourselves from severe COVID-19 courses?

In general, people should exercise to maintain their health and protect themselves from illness. How sensible is physical activity to prevent death from coronavirus? Regular physical activity can actually reduce the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome, one of the main causes of death in COVID-19 diseases.

A recent study by the University of Virginia found that regular exercise reduces the risk of dying from acute respiratory distress syndrome due to COVID-19 disease. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Redox Biology".

Exercise reduces the severity of acute respiratory distress syndrome

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) affects between three percent and 17 percent of all people with COVID-19. Exercise and physical activity appear to reduce or possibly prevent the severity of acute respiratory distress syndrome in affected people.

Acute respiratory distress syndrome often leads to intensive care admission

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an agency from the United States Department of Health, approximately 20 percent to 42 percent of people who are hospitalized for COVID-19 suffer from Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS ). An estimated 67 percent to 85 percent of these patients will then be admitted to the intensive care unit. Research conducted prior to the pandemic suggests that around half of those who develop severe ARDS die from the effects (see: COVID-19: high mortality from mechanical ventilation).

About 80 percent of sick people do not need a ventilator

Typically, social distancing is recommended to protect against COVID-19 disease or to prevent further spread in an existing disease. In severe cases of COVID-19, we rely on a ventilator for treatment. About 80 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases have only mild symptoms, so they do not need breathing support.

New therapeutic agent for ARDS caused by COVID-19

The findings of the current study on an endogenous antioxidative enzyme provide important clues and have prompted the researchers to develop a novel therapeutic agent for the ARDS caused by COVID-19.

What is ecSOD?

The researchers created an overview of existing medical research that deals with an antioxidant called extracellular superoxide dismutase (ecSOD). This powerful antioxidant fights harmful free radicals, protects our tissues and helps prevent diseases. Our muscles naturally form ecSOD by secreting them into the bloodstream to allow attachment to other vital organs, but production is encouraged through cardiovascular exercises.

EcSOD affects many diseases

A decrease in antioxidant is observed in several diseases, including acute lung diseases, ischemic heart diseases and kidney failure. Laboratory studies in mice indicate that blocking its production exacerbates heart problems, while increasing the antioxidant has a positive effect. A decrease in ecSOD is also associated with chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis.

Physical activity despite social isolation

Research suggests that just one session of physical exercise increases antioxidant production. The researchers advise that people should try to maintain physical activity, but pay attention to maintaining so-called social distance.

Regular exercise keeps you healthy

“Regular exercise has far more health benefits than we know. Protection against this serious respiratory disease is just one of many examples, ”says study author Dr. Zhen Yan from the University of Virginia School of Medicine in a press release.

How can the production of ecSOD be increased?

The researchers suggest ecSOD as a possible treatment for ARDS and many other health conditions. For example, gene therapy could one day be used to increase the production of the antioxidant so that its protective presence in the lungs is increased.

Does ecSOD protect against kidney damage?

Further research has also shown that laboratory rats with chronic kidney disease suffered less kidney damage when treated with human ecSOD. The antioxidant has already been suggested as a potential therapeutic for diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes that can lead to blindness.

Can ecSOD protect against multi-organ dysfunction syndrome?

In addition, ecSOD could also prove beneficial against multi-organ dysfunction syndrome, in which multiple organs begin to fail. Efforts to treat the condition with general antioxidants have so far been unsuccessful. A better understanding of how ecSOD works could enable more targeted and effective use.

Exercise and increase your movement!

ecSOD is a perfect example of what we can learn from the biological process of physical training to advance medicine, adds Dr. Yan added. We should continue to learn the secrets of the great benefits of regular exercise. But we don't have to wait to exercise or increase our daily exercise until all of these benefits are known. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Zhen Yan, Hannah R. Spaulding: Extracellular superoxide dismutase, a molecular transducer of health benefits of exercise, in Redox Biology (published volume 32, May 2020), Redox Biology
  • COVID-19: Exercise May Help Prevent Deadly Complication, University of Virginia (Published April 15, 2020), University of Virginia

Video: Are You At Risk of Getting COVID-19? (May 2022).


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