COVID-19: How Regular exercise can protect you from severe illness

The  lockdown brought about the cut in physical activity in some places by as much as 49%

Apart from the instantaneous threat to life caused by COVID-19, the pandemic and its lockdowns gave rise to a slew of knock-on crises. Among them was the seismic drop in physical activity.

The reduction in exercise matters because of the remarkably positive effect that physical activity has on health. A new study has found that physical activity can reduce the risk of death by COVID-19 by up to 42%

Research has revealed that an antioxidant enzyme humans produce when exercising may stave off or lessen the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome, an ailment that occurs when the lungs become so inflamed they get stiff and swollen, leading to fluid buildup and oxygen deprivation. ARDS is one of the complications that people with COVID-19 tend to develop, and it is associated with a higher death rate from the disease.

According to a review published in May 2020 in the journal Redox Biology, the antioxidant, Antioxidant extracellular superoxide dismutase (EcSOD) helps protect against ARDS and other heart and lung diseases, And that protective effect may include helping in the prevention of severe complications occurring as a result of COVID-19, the article notes.

How Does EcSOD Protect Heart and Lung Functioning?

Even though the human muscle naturally produces EcSOD, the muscles tend to produce it in higher quantities during vigorous exercise. After it has been produced in the skeletal muscles, it then spreads through the blood to body organs like the lungs, heart, and kidneys

It’s a potent enzyme and it is unique because, so far, it is the only known antioxidant enzyme that naturally works in the fluid and the non-cellular part of blood known as plasma.

Free radicals are toxic molecules our bodies produce. Usually, the human body’s antioxidants are able to neutralize them before they do damage, but when the body is burdened with disease or illness, we are less able to fight them off. This experience is what is termed oxidative stress and it leaves us more vulnerable to disease.

EcSOD breaks down toxic free radicals produced during disease processes.

Importance of exercise

Although research has shown that a single stint of exercise will increase the production of the EcSOD enzyme, there is no evidence that just one bout of exercise will increase EcSOD to the level that it will be protective

Carrying out regular bouts of exercise benefits the immune system by reducing inflammation, mobilizing white blood cells to stave off infection, strengthening the body’s ability to recognize harmful pathogens that induce diseases and, most importantly, alleviating psychological stress.

It has been observed that different forms of aerobic exercises are the best forms of exercise that would help in the improvement of EcSOD levels over time.

The Center for Disease Control has recommended 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercises like brisk walking or even 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise like jogging, running, or an equivalent mix of both running and jogging,  plus muscle-strengthening activities that work for all muscle groups two or more days a week.

However, it is important to note that combining it with strength workouts to maintain muscle mass contributes to this outcome. The bottom line is that you need to be doing both aerobic and strength workouts to keep EcSOD levels up.

In conclusion, people need to find ways to exercise while following social distancing guidelines. The most important guidelines would be avoiding contact during exercise, hand washing and sanitizing hands and surfaces. We also suggest that people carry out antigen tests or rapid covid tests to ensure it is safe to go out and exercise. If tests come out positive, exercising indoors should be considered.

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