Regular exercise strengthens immune health and good immune health may decrease the severity of symptoms associated with COVID-19. The most dangerous symptom of COVID-19, acute respiratory distress, is the primary cause of death. A recent article authored by a well-known scientist from University of Virginia, suggests that regular exercise may reduce the risk of acute respiratory distress. The science supporting this conclusion is quite intriguing and it evolves around free radical formation.
Free radical formation has been implicated in a host of diseases including cancer, kidney and lung disease. To combat free radicals your body has developed the capability to produce powerful antioxidants that can seek out and neutralize free radicals. One natural antioxidant is called “extracellular superoxide dismutase” or SOD for short. The primary source of SOD is our muscles and regular exercise stimulates SOD production.
What does all this have to do with COVID-19. In lung dysfunction, the body’s normal level of SOD is decreased and studies have shown that administration of SOD, at least in laboratory animals, lessens the severity of lung disease. Clearly much more research will have to be conducted to determine if SOD is a useful therapeutic but again the research provides another reason why regular exercise is one of the best ways to maintain health and might even provide protection against the more severe symptoms of COVID-19. Remember, however, that social distancing, mask wearing and frequent washing of hands are still the most effective ways of avoiding COVID-19 altogether.