Regular exercise can possibly prevent coronavirus patients from developing severe complications like acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), according to a new study.

The study, which was published by Zhen Yan, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, shows that medical research findings “strongly support” the possibility that exercise can prevent or at least reduce the severity of ARDS, which affects between 3 percent and 17 percent of all patients with COVID-19. Based on available information, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 20 percent to 42 percent of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 will develop ARDS. The range for patients admitted to intensive care is estimated at 67 percent to 85 percent.

Research conducted prior to the pandemic suggested that approximately 45 percent 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,” Yan said in a press release. “The flip side of the story is that approximately 80 percent of confirmed COVID-19 patients have mild symptoms with no need for 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.”

Photo courtesy Karen Voight, fitness icon