Physical inactivity is associated with a higher risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes: a study in 48 440 adult patients
March 30, 2021
Objectives To compare hospitalisation rates, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and mortality for patients with COVID-19 who were consistently inactive, doing some activity or consistently meeting physical activity guidelines.
Methods We identified 48 440 adult patients with a COVID-19 diagnosis from 1 January 2020 to 21 October 2020, with at least three exercise vital sign measurements from 19 March 2018 to 18 March 2020. We linked each patient’s self-reported physical activity category (consistently inactive=0–10 min/week, some activity=11–149 min/week, consistently meeting guidelines=150+ min/week) to the risk of hospitalisation, ICU admission and death after COVID-19 diagnosis. We conducted multivariable logistic regression controlling for demographics and known risk factors to assess whether inactivity was associated with COVID-19 outcomes.
Results Patients with COVID-19 who were consistently inactive had a greater risk of hospitalisation (OR 2.26; 95% CI 1.81 to 2.83), admission to the ICU (OR 1.73; 95% CI 1.18 to 2.55) and death (OR 2.49; 95% CI 1.33 to 4.67) due to COVID-19 than patients who were consistently meeting physical activity guidelines. Patients who were consistently inactive also had a greater risk of hospitalisation (OR 1.20; 95% CI 1.10 to 1.32), admission to the ICU (OR 1.10; 95% CI 0.93 to 1.29) and death (OR 1.32; 95% CI 1.09 to 1.60) due to COVID-19 than patients who were doing some physical activity.
Conclusions Consistently meeting physical activity guidelines was strongly associated with a reduced risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes among infected adults. We recommend efforts to promote physical activity be prioritised by public health agencies and incorporated into routine medical care.