New York: Regular work-outs having long term effects on one’s immunity is well-known. Now a new study has found out that regular exercise may also reduce the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a major cause of mortality among patients infected with Covid-19.
Medical research findings “strongly support” the possibility that exercise can prevent or at least reduce severity of ARDS, which affects three to 17 per cent of all patients with coronavirus infection, said Zhen Yan of the University of Virginia School of Medicine who compiled an in-depth review of existing medical research.
Research conducted prior to the pandemic suggested that approximately 45 per cent of patients who develop severe ARDS will die.
“All you hear now is either social distancing or ventilator, as if all we can do is either avoiding exposure or relying on a ventilator to survive if we get infected. 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 clues and have intrigued us to develop a novel therapeutic for ARDS caused by COVID-19,” said Yan, the director of the Center for Skeletal Muscle Research at UVA's Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center.
His study basically looked at an antioxidant known as "extracellular superoxide dismutase" (EcSOD). This potent antioxidant hunts down harmful free radicals, protecting the tissues and helping to prevent disease. The muscles naturally make EcSOD, secreting it into the circulation to allow binding to other vital organs, but its production is enhanced by cardiovascular exercise.
A decrease in the antioxidant is seen in several diseases, including acute lung disease, ischemic heart disease and kidney failure, Yan's review found. Lab research in mice suggested that blocking its production worsens heart problems, while increasing it has a beneficial effect. A decrease in EcSOD is also associated with chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis.
Even a single session of exercise increases production of the antioxidant, Yan found and urged people to find ways to exercise even while maintaining social distancing. "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."