Covid: Inactive people 2.49 times more likely to die after getting coronavirus than those who exercise regularly

It's recommended that people carry out at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. Credit: PA

People who are “consistently inactive” are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill or dying after contracting Covid-19, a new study has shown.

Inactive people were 2.49 times more likely to die after developing Covid than people who were active and 2.26 times more likely to be hospitalised, researchers found.

The authors said that as a risk factor for severe disease, physical inactivity was surpassed only by advanced age and a history of organ transplant.

Those who were inactive in the two years before the coronavirus pandemic were more likely to be admitted to hospital, require intensive care treatment and more likely to die compared to people who meet activity guidelines, academics in the US found.

The new study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, examined data on almost 50,000 adults who had a Covid-19 diagnosis between January and late October last year.

The team of researchers from the US, used this information and compared it to physical activity data for the preceding two years.

People who did less than 10 minutes of exercise a week were classed as “consistently inactive”.

The academics compared the information from these people to those who met exercise guidelines of at least 150 minutes a week of activity and people who had “some activity” of 11 to 149 minutes each week.

Some 7% were consistently meeting physical activity guidelines; 15% were consistently inactive, with the remainder reporting some activity.

Being consistently inactive increased the odds of hospital admission 2.26-fold compared with consistently meeting physical activity guidelines, the authors found.

Those who were doing some activity had 1.89 times greater odds of hospital admission compared to those who met the guidelines.

Patients who were consistently inactive had 1.73 times greater odds of being admitted to an intensive care unit compared to those who met the guidance.

And the odds of death were 2.49 times greater for patients who were inactive compared with patients who were consistently meeting exercise guidelines.

Patients who were doing some activity had 1.88 times greater odds of death than those who met the guidelines.

Active people are less likely to become seriously ill with Covid-19 than people who are inactive. Credit: AP

“We found that consistently meeting physical activity guidelines was strongly associated with a reduced odds for severe Covid-19 among infected adults,” the authors wrote.

“Specifically, when compared with those who reported being consistently inactive, those who were consistently meeting physical activity guidelines had lower odds of being hospitalised, requiring ICU admission and dying from Covid-19.

“Even activity levels that did not meet the PA guidelines were significantly associated with reduced odds of hospitalisation and death.

“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… except for age and a history of organ transplant.”

Each week, working aged adults in the UK are recommended to accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity, such as brisk walking or cycling; or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity such as running.