To counter the most serious effects of a Covid 19 infection and to protect the respiratory tract from attacks by viruses and bacteria, we can count on a powerful and handy remedy, physical exercise. Moving and practicing physical activity, even moderate, on a regular basis has in fact been shown to strengthen our natural defenses against viruses and bacteria that can attack the respiratory system, as emerges from a very recent review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine by a Spanish team (Ezzatvar et al, Br J Sports Med, 2022).
The benefits of physical exercise
The beneficial action of physical exercise on the respiratory tract was already known, with airways more protected from attack by viruses and bacteria in more active individuals than in sedentary ones. But is it possible to expect a similar beneficial action also with regard to the Covid 19 infection? To answer this question, the Spanish scientists analyzed the data of 16 studies previously carried out, for a total of 1 853 610 people involved between November 2019 and March 2022. Let's see the results of what emerged from this study.
Physical activity protects against Covid 19
Scientists noted that, in the event of Covid 19 infection, those who practiced regular physical activity had a 36% lower risk of hospitalization, a 44% lower risk of developing serious illness and a 44% lower risk of death than those who were more sedentary. The greatest benefits were observed with moderate intensity physical activity lasting 150 minutes per week, or with more intense physical activity of 75 minutes per week. Carrying out physical activity for a longer time can be good for the heart, brain and mood but does not provide greater protection as regards the health of the respiratory tract, at least as reported by the Spanish study. It is believed that the protection provided by physical activity is to be found in a multiple capacity for action. First of all, regular physical activity helps to combat conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity, which are considered to be the cause of an increased risk of a severe course of Covid 19 disease. Not only that, regular physical activity helps reduce chronic inflammation, which weakens the immune system, and increases the action of natural killer cells, responsible for recognizing and destroying cells attacked by viruses, as well as tumors.
The study shows further evidence that physical activity is beneficial for our health. Today we have seen that regular physical exercise reduces the risk of a serious course following a possible Covid 19 infection. However, it should also be remembered that, to put our defenses in the best conditions to face any threat, it is also important to follow a healthy and varied diet, avoiding refined foods rich in fats and sugars that increase blood sugar and inflammation.