Study Finds that Exercise Can Affect Your Pneumonia and Flu Risks

Study Finds that Exercise Can Affect Your Pneumonia and Flu Risks
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New research suggests that staying active can reduce the risk of passing away from the flu and pneumonia in addition to all the other well known benefits.

The danger of dying from influenza and pneumonia is reduced by 48 percent when physical activity guidelines are met, according to a study shared via the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

As per the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults need to engage in 150 minutes or more of moderate aerobic exercise and two plus days of moderate muscle strengthening activities each week.

More than 570,000 people’s responses from the US National Health Interview Survey from the year 1998 to 2018 were used in the research.

It divided participants into groups based on how well they met the advised amount of exercise after asking about their activity habits.

Following the initial survey, the participants were followed up with on average for 9 years.

During that time, 1,516 people died from the flu or pneumonia.

Sticking to the recommendations for both aerobic and muscle strengthening exercise cut the risk of flu or pneumonia death almost in half, but meeting just the aerobic activity target was associated with a 36 percent lower risk, the study mentions.

The results are noteworthy, according to the main study author Dr. Bryant Webber, as influenza and pneumonia are among the top causes of mortality in the United States and all throughout the globe.

“This study may encourage them that physical activity may be yet another powerful tool for protecting themselves against pneumonia and influenza death,” he shared.

According to Dr. Robert Sallis, who was not directly involved in the study, the results are consistent with current understanding and may have applications to other illnesses.

“This study is consistent with the various studies showing that regular exercise dramatically lowered the risk of COVID-19 related death in similar fashion,” Sallis stated.

The study found that even if you fall short of the suggested level of activity, even a bit of exercise is better than no exercise at the end of the day.

Webber shared that “We also learned that any level of physical activity, even in amounts below the recommended level, lowered the influenza and pneumonia death risk, as compared to doing no aerobic activity.”

The study found that doing 10 to 149 minutes per week of aerobic exercise was linked to a 21 percent lower risk of mortality from the flu and pneumonia.

“Our advice for everyone — regardless of age or physical fitness level — is to ‘move more and sit less.’ Readers who do not get any physical activity should be encouraged that doing any is better than none,” Webber went on to say.

At the same time, the study also found that there was no additional advantages for those who engaged in aerobic exercise for more than 600 minutes each week.

The study revealed that there is such a thing as too much muscular strengthening.

Reaching the goal of two or more sessions considerably reduced the mortality risk, while obtaining seven or more sessions was linked to a 41 percent higher risk of death from influenza or pneumonia, the study found.

The researchers pointed out that as this was just an observational study, they were only able to identify the elements that were linked to a certain degree of risk rather than making any conclusions about what causes or avoids the fatalities.

According to the study, the higher risk may be due to several variables, such as the cardiovascular effects of regular muscle-strengthening exercise or incorrect survey answers.

Even though the methodology has flaws, Sallis noted, researchers frequently turn to these studies when it is hard to randomly assign individuals to different lifestyles.

According to the study, aerobic activity, or cardio as it is sometimes known, doesn’t always require frequent visits to the gym.

Any activity raising your heart rate and causing you to perspire, such as stair climbing, running, bicycling, or fast walking, falls under this category.

The study indicated that exercises including lifting weights, squats, lunges, and even heavy gardening might be considered muscle-strengthening activities.

According to massive research released in 2021, the greatest fitness regimens involve scheduling your workouts, getting reminders, providing rewards, and prohibiting skipping more than one scheduled session in a row.

Katy Milkman, the study’s lead author, stated that “If people hope to boost their physical activity or to change their health behaviors, there are very low cost behavioral insights that can be built into programs to help them achieve greater success.”

In other words, you can always start small. You’ll be surprised how little you need to do to raise your heartbeat up at first.


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Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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