‘Slow walkers’ at higher chances of severe COVID-19

WEDNESDAY, March 17, 2021 (HealthDay News) – If you wander and move instead of rushing when walking, you are at a higher risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19, UK researchers are warning.

For the study, investigators analyzed data from more than 412,000 middle-aged Britons and found that among those whose weight was normal, slow walkers were more than twice as likely to develop severe COVID-19 and 3.75 times as likely to die from it than those who keep a brisk pace.

“We already know that obesity and frailty are key risk factors for COVID-19 outcomes. This is the first study to show that slow walkers have a much higher risk of getting severe results from COVID-19, regardless of their weight, ”said lead researcher Thomas Yates, who studies physical activity, sedentary behavior and health at the University of Leicester.

“With the pandemic it is essential to continue to exert unprecedented pressure on health services and communities, to identify those most at risk and to take preventive measures to protect them, ”Yates added in an academic press release.

The new research was recently published in the International Journal of Obesity.

Yates’ team also reported that slow walkers with normal weight were at greater risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19 than obese fast walkers. And the risk was uniformly high if slow walkers were obese or their weight was normal.

Fast walkers have generally been shown to have good heart health, which makes them more resistant to stressors, including viruses, Yates pointed out.

“But”, he added, “this hypothesis has not yet been established for infectious diseases”.

Large database studies have linked obesity and frailty to COVID-19 findings, but routine clinical databases lack data on measures of physical function or fitness, Yates said.

“I believe current public health and research surveillance studies should consider incorporating simple measures of fitness, such as self-reported walking pace, in addition to BMI. [a measure of body fat based on height and weight], as potential predictors of the risk of COVID-19 outcomes that could ultimately lead to better prevention methods that save lives, ”he concluded.

More information

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on people at increased risk of Severe COVID-19.

SOURCE: University of Leicester, press release, March 16, 2021

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