Western University was part of some exciting research news this week!

Research from Western University shows that adults who engaged in high to moderate levels of physical activity had “significantly better” outcomes when it came to contracting COVID-19.

The study, published this month in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, looked at physical activity data involving more than 65,000 adult patients from South Africa who had COVID-19 between March 2020 and June 2021.

Researchers found that patients with 60-149 minutes per week, and 150+ minutes per week, were associated with:

  • lower rates of hospitalization
  • lower rates of ICU admission
  • lower rates of ventilation
  • lower rates of death

compared to those with low activity levels (0- 59 minutes per week).

The 65,361 patients involved in the study were all from South Africa and all were unvaccinated for data control purposes.

Schulich’s Dr. Saverio Stranges, one of three London researchers involved in the study, said the findings reiterate the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle to mitigate the health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Regular physical activity, even of low to moderate intensity, may reduce the risk of morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 infection” reports the chair of epidemiology and biostatistics at Schulich.

In a separate statement, Dr. Jane Thornton, also of Schulich and also involved in the study, said the findings show protection with activity levels lower than the 150 minutes per week are generally recommended for adults.

“The data reinforce the need to make access to physical activity easier during pandemics, as part of government policy in fact, and promote its beneficial effects in health care more broadly,” said Thornton, assistant professor of family medicine and epidemiology and biostatistics at Schulich.

The researchers conclude that, as a means of improving patient outcomes and reducing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health care systems, “regular physical activity in both healthy individuals and those with chronic medical conditions should be encouraged at all times and facilitated, not restricted, during a pandemic.”