We all know that exercise can be beneficial for overall health, but what about exercise and COVID-19? According to a new research review cardiovascular exercise may help protect people from a major complication of COVID-19 infection called acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS for short.
Specifically, regular bouts of cardiovascular exercise increase the production of ecSOD which is “Extracellular Super Oxide Dismutase” – a crucial antioxidant that is produced by the body to protect cells from oxidative damage.
Zhen Yan, the director of the Center for Skeletal Muscle Research at UVA’s Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center, who conducted the review recommends 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day to help ward off ARDS. “We cannot live in isolation forever,” he said. “Regular exercise has far more health benefits than we know. The protection against this severe respiratory disease condition is just one of the many examples.”
“All you hear now is either social distancing or ventilator, as if all we can do is either avoid exposure or rely on a ventilator to survive if we get infected.” Yan said. “The flip side of the story is that approximately 80% of confirmed COVID-19 patients have mild symptoms with no need of respiratory support. The question is, ‘why?’ Our findings about an endogenous antioxidant enzyme provide important clue and have intrigued us to develop a novel therapeutic for ARDS caused by COVID-19.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated between 20 and 42 percent of all patients hospitalized with COVID-19 will develop ARDS.
Research predating the pandemic suggested that approximately 45 percent of patients who develop severe ARDS will die, according to a news release from the University of Virginia Health System.