Research has found that 30 minutes of regular activity can have a huge impact on immunity / Shutterstock / Kuznetsov Dmitriy
Regular physical activity could reduce the risk of dying from infectious diseases – like COVID-19, by more than a third (37%), according to a new study.
A study by an international team of researchers, led by Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), also found that physical activity can reduce the chances of catching the virus by 31%, while increasing the effectiveness of vaccines up to 40%.
Led by GCU Professor of Health Behavior Dynamics Sébastien Chastin, the study would be the first in the world to examine the link between exercise and immunity to COVID-19.
It is based on a large-scale systematic review of 16,698 global epidemiological studies published between January 1980 and April 2020.
Research has found that 30 minutes of activity that puts people out of breath – such as walking, running, biking, and strengthening exercises – five days a week (or 150 minutes a week) can have a dramatic impact on the body. immunity against infectious diseases.
Prof Chastin said the results show how physical activity “strengthens the first line of defense of the human immune system and a higher concentration of immune cells.”
“This research is extremely important and could help reduce the number of people who contract and die from COVID-19,” Chastin said.
“This is the first research to prove that regular physical activity protects you against infectious diseases.
“We have found that regular exercise where you are short of breath increases your immunity to infectious diseases by 31% and increases the number of immune cells in the body in the first line of defense which is the mucous layer of antibodies.
“These cells are responsible for identifying foreign agents in the body without depressing the rest of the immune system, so it’s perfectly safe and protects you against infectious disease.
“We have also found that if you add physical activity to your immunization schedule, it increases the potency of the immunization. We recommend a 12-week physical activity program prior to vaccination, which may result in 20-40% more effective immunization. “
The research – titled Effects of regular physical activity on the immune system, vaccination and the risk of community-based infectious disease in the general population: systematic review and meta-analysis – has been published in the journal Sports Medicine.
The results were sent to the Scottish government and other governments, public health experts and healthcare professionals around the world including Public Health Scotland, Public Health England, the South African and Belgian governments and the football’s world governing body, FIFA.
Chastin added: “Policy makers must do everything possible to combat this disease. It is not a panacea but another inexpensive tool that we can use to protect the public.
“The promotion of physical activity and access for all to continue physical activity are essential.
“Public information campaigns on the benefits of physical activity in the fight against the pandemic should be undertaken. “
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