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02 July 2020

Move more: How exercise can reduce the impact of COVID-19 related hospitalisation risk

Many of us know exercise is good for us, but we may underestimate the importance of being physically active at a time like this.

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There has been extensive research around the COVID-19 pandemic. However, not much is known about the impact of health and lifestyle factors on your risk of contracting or recovering from COVID-19.

Research conducted by Discovery shows how the risk of requiring hospitalisation can be influenced by lifestyle factors. Many of us know exercise is good for us, but we may underestimate the importance of being physically active at a time like this.  

Indications are that increased physical activity can reduce some of the risk that age and chronic conditions add to needing hospitalisation due to COVID-19. 

A predictive model developed by Discovery, to identify the risk of requiring hospitalisation when diagnosed with COVID-19, shows that having a chronic health condition increases the possibility of hospitalisation by 18% and when someone presents with more than one underlying health condition, there is a 29% higher risk for hospitalisation. This model draws on the physical activity levels of members of the Vitality programme. 

Dr Mosima Mabunda, Head of Wellness at Vitality explains that positive effects of healthy living can offset the elevated risks of chronic conditions and aging. An individual that is 65 years but engaged in their health and wellness has the same COVID-19 hospital admission risk as an unengaged 55-year old. Similarly, members with chronic conditions can offset their elevated COVID-19 risk through healthy living. 

Another key insight is that Vitality members who are physically active are at 11% lower risk of COVID-19 related hospital admission when compared to those who are not physically active.

Dr Mabunda says the data around physical activity is positive, in spite of age being the strongest predictor of COVID-19 related admission risk. 

“Physical activity strengthens our immune system and decreases inflammation, both of which affect the severity of infections should we get them. But, it also has a positive effect on our stress levels, which in turn affects immunity. We know that stress hormones are elevated during periods of isolation or confinement and that this can lower our immunity. Apart from the mental health benefits of physical activity, combatting stress with physical activity, can additionally boost immunity.”  

  • Vitality is a behavioural-change programme which uses motivation in the form of “nudges” to encourage people to keep moving, and improve both their health and immunity.

Let’s talk about motivation.

Move More: Why exercise matters during COVID-19 is a FREE webinar brought to you by Discovery Vitality. Join runners Wandisile Nongodlwana and Bruce Fordyce; Professor of Sports Medicine, Jon Patricios; and Vitality’s Head of Wellness, Dr Mosima Mabunda  on Tuesday, 7 July 2020 at 5.30pm. Click here to book your spot.

This post and content is sponsored, written and provided by Discovery Vitality.

 
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