Lack of exercise is the strongest risk factor in death from COVID-19
Leisure Opportunities
Job search
Job Search
see all jobs
Latest job opportunities
£16,738 - £17,892 (£8.91 per hour for age 23 plus)
Warrington, UK
NRG Gym Ltd
NRG Walsall, West Midlands, UK
IRO UK £2,800+ per month
Saudi Arabia (country-wide West to East)
star job
Perfect Gym
Nationwide, UK
Moray Sports Foundation
Package circa £60k
Moray Sports Centre, Elgin, Scotland

Lack of exercise is the strongest risk factor in death from COVID-19

Job opportunities
Oxley Sports Centre
location: Sherborne, UK
more jobs

Lack of exercise is a major cause of death from COVID-19, according to new research, with only advanced age and organ transplant leading to greater risk.

Lack of exercise creates greater levels of risk than smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and cancer

A large US study, published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine today (14 April 2021), suggests being physically inactive could more than double the risk of dying from the coronavirus.

The study found that patients with COVID-19 who were consistently inactive during the two years preceding the pandemic were more likely to be admitted to hospital, to require intensive care and more likely to die than patients who had consistently met physical activity guidelines.

As a risk factor for severe complications from COVID-19, physical inactivity was exceeded only by advanced age and a history of organ transplant.

Dr Robert Sallis, author of the study, said: ”It is notable that being consistently inactive was a stronger risk factor for severe COVID-19 outcomes than any of the underlying medical conditions and risk factors identified by The Centers for Disease Control, except for age and a history of organ transplant.

“In fact, physical inactivity was the strongest risk factor across all outcomes, compared with the commonly cited modifiable risk factors, including smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

“Therefore, we recommend that public health authorities inform all populations that short of vaccination and following public health safety guidelines such as social distancing and mask use, engaging in regular physical activity may be the single most important action individuals can take to prevent severe COVID-19 and its complications, including death."

To explore its potential impact on the severity of the infection – from hospital admission rates and need for intensive care to death – researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in California, US, compared these outcomes in 48,440 adults with confirmed COVID-19 infection between January and October 2020.

The patients’ average age was 47 and nearly two-thirds were women (62 per cent). Around half had no underlying conditions, which included diabetes, COPD, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and cancer; nearly 1 in 5 (18 per cent) had only one; and almost a third (32 per cent) had two or more.

All of them had reported their level of regular physical activity at least three times between March 2018 and March 2020 at outpatient clinics.

This was classified as consistently inactive (0–10 mins/week); some activity (11–149 mins/week); or consistently meeting physical activity guidelines (150+ mins/week).

Some 7 per cent were consistently meeting physical activity guidelines, while 15 per cent were consistently inactive, with the remainder reporting "some" activity.

Some 9 per cent of the total were admitted to hospital; around 3 per cent required intensive care; and 2 per cent died.

The study found that consistently meeting physical activity guidelines was strongly associated with a reduced risk of these outcomes.

After taking account of potentially influential factors – such as age and underlying conditions – patients with COVID-19 who were consistently physically inactive were more than twice as likely to be admitted to hospital as patients who clocked up 150+ minutes of physical activity every week.

Those who were inactive were also 73 per cent more likely to require intensive care, and 2.5 times more likely to die of the infection.

Patients who were consistently inactive were also 20 per cent more likely to be admitted to hospital, 10 per cent more likely to require intensive care, and 32 per cent more likely to die of their infection than were patients who were doing some physical activity regularly.

Liz Terry, editor of HCM, said: "These findings reinforce previous research which established the positive effects of activity on COVID-19 outcomes, but which were largely ignored by governments. This large-sample study must surely now make a crystal clear case for the importance of exercise and lead to a new focus on physical activity by political decision-makers at the highest level.

"We also need a greater appreciation by governments for the valuable role gyms and health clubs play in making exercise accessible and affordable for the masses."

Commenting on the findings, Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said the findings provided a "wake-up call".

"We know physical inactivity is one the greatest causes of death and disease globally and the UK’s activity levels are not where they should be, weakening us against COVID-19," Edwards said.

"There is an opportunity for the Government to prioritise physical activity through both greater investment and taxation and regulatory reform, and begin to improve our national wellbeing following this crisis.”

To access the full study, click here for the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Sign up for FREE ezines & magazines
Being physically active lessens the chance of a person becoming seriously ill with – and dying as a result of – a COVID-19 infection.

More News

1 - 15 of 43,274
14 May 2021
Fully vaccinated people in the US no longer need to wear a face mask whether indoors or outdoors, following a new ruling from the Centers ... More
13 May 2021
Anytime Fitness UK has revealed that April was its busiest month for new memberships since it began trading in the UK. The franchised health club ... More
13 May 2021
UK Sport has outlined its mission to create the "greatest decade of extraordinary sporting moments", driven by success at the Paris 2024 Games and the ... More
13 May 2021
HCM understands that Fitness International, which operates more than 700 health clubs under the LA Fitness, Esporta Fitness and City Sports Club brands, is launching ... More
13 May 2021
COVID-19 has presented our industry with a chance to reinvent itself, said thought leader Seth Mattison at ISPA's Stronger Together Summit. Mattison, the founder of ... More
12 May 2021
The Local Government Association (LGA) has appointed Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson as its new president. The Paralympic legend and ukactive chair will succeed outgoing president Lord ... More
Miha Bodytec GmbH
Miha Bodytec GmbH
12 May 2021
A court has given Virgin Active the green light to erase the rent arrears it had accrued during pandemic lockdowns. The wiping out of the ... More
12 May 2021
There is "incredible resilience" in the sports and physical activity sector – but the industry requires further support to bounce back from the devastating effects ... More
12 May 2021
The Swimming Teachers' Association (STA) has partnered with a psychologist to provide new mindfulness and wellness resources for its members. The new wellbeing and mindfulness ... More
11 May 2021
A report commissioned by Parkrun has estimated that allowing mass-participation outdoor events carries an "exceptionally low risk" of COVID-19 transmission. The study, by Professor Clive ... More
11 May 2021
The Sport and Recreation Alliance (SRA) has published its new four-year strategy, outlining its vision to showcase the social, economic and health benefits of physical ... More
11 May 2021
Jan Spaticchia, founder and chair of énergie Fitness has died aged 51 following a short illness. Spaticchia was also chair of the recently-launched Empowered Brands ... More
FreeMotion Fitness
FreeMotion Fitness
09 May 2021
A new themed attraction, based on the popular I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! TV show, is set to open in the UK this ... More
05 May 2021
A new pioneering approach looks to help cancer patients prepare for and respond to treatment by offering them a combination of exercise, nutrition and psychological ... More
05 May 2021
Peloton is recalling all of its Tread and Tread+ machines in the US, after striking a deal with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). ... More
1 - 15 of 43,274
Active IQ
Active IQ