Regular exercise can reduce their risk of developing and dying from pneumonia

People who exercise regularly can reduce their risk of developing and dying from pneumonia.


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Studies have suggested the health benefits of regular exercise. Past research has linked regular exercise with a reduced risk of pneumonia. But, the studies have had mixed findings, with some reporting evidence of a relationship and others no evidence.

Scientists at the University of Bristol carried out a detailed analysis of all published studies. They re-evaluated the relationship between regular exercise and the risk of developing pneumonia.

Through their analysis, they wanted to determine:

  • If there is an association between regular physical activity and future risk of pneumonia.
  • If there is an association, what is the strength and nature of the association?
  • Is it stronger or weaker in specific groups of people if there is an association?

Scientists found that people who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing pneumonia and pneumonia-related death than those who are less physically active. The relationship was shown for pneumonia that did not result in death and those that resulted in death. The results did not change on considering known factors that can affect pneumonia, such as age, sex, body mass index, socioeconomic status, alcohol consumption, smoking, and pre-existing diseases.

Dr. Setor Kunutsor, Senior Lecturer in Evidence Synthesis in the Bristol Medical School: Translational Health Sciences (THS) and corresponding author on the paper, said: “In this first-ever pooled analysis of all studies conducted on the topic, we found strong and convincing evidence of a relationship between regular exercise and reduction in a person’s risk of developing pneumonia as well as death from the disease.”

“Though our study could not determine the amount and intensity of physical activity, which is essential to prevent pneumonia, some of the results suggest that walking for 30 minutes once a week has a protective effect on death due to pneumonia.”

“During the winter months and with COVID-19 still circulating, developing severe pneumonia from COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases is a common occurrence. Taking regular physical activity could reduce the risk of respiratory diseases such as COVID-19, especially in at-risk groups like older adults and those with underlying health conditions.”

The study’s findings add to the well-documented evidence that regular physical activity has the potential to reduce the risk of several chronic diseases, infectious diseases such as pneumonia, as well as death.

Journal Reference:

  1. Setor K. Kunutsor, Samuel Seidu, Jari A. Laukkanen. Physical activity reduces the risk of pneumonia: systematic review and meta-analysis of 10 prospective studies involving 1,044,492 participants. DOI: 10.1007/s11357-021-00491-2


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