UFV researching whether physical fitness has impact on COVID-19 severity

Nursing and kinesiology students volunteering together in an exercise program at a local residential care facility (in pre-COVID times. File photo from 2012). Photo: Rick Collins.

Does physical fitness influence COVID-19 symptom severity, symptom duration, and complications?

A research team based at the University of the Fraser Valley wants to find out. And they need the cooperation, via an online survey, of people who have had COVID-19.

Dr. Jason Brandenburg, an exercise physiology researcher, is leading a team of researchers from the Faculty of Health Sciences at UFV for this study, including colleagues Dr. Iris Lesser, Dr. Cynthia Thomson, and Dr. Luisa Giles.

They are conducting an online survey to understand if physical fitness influences the symptoms associated with having the COVID-19 virus.

The symptoms and prognosis of COVID-19 have been shown to be worse in individuals who have pre-existing conditions such as obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, and hypertension. In individuals with these conditions, the more severe symptoms and development of adverse complications are thought to be related to the chronic, low-grade inflammation.

The researchers want to find out if one of the key benefits of regular exercise helps mitigate those symptoms.

“Regular exercise is associated with lowering chronic inflammation,” Brandenburg notes. “Furthermore, exercise is linked to improving the immune response to virus infections. Consequently, high levels of physical fitness may offer some protection against COVID-19 symptom severity; especially in those who experience one or more pre-existing conditions. The main objective of our project is to understand if fitness level influences the number of symptoms, durations of symptoms, severity of symptoms, and any complications associated with having the COVID-19 virus.”

The research team is looking for individuals who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus (as indicated by a positive test for COVID-19) to complete an online questionnaire. If you choose to consent to completing this online questionnaire on the Survey monkey platform, you will be asked about demographic variables, your COVID-19 symptoms, and your physical fitness level prior to being infected. It will take approximately 30 minutes to complete the online questionnaire.

To complete the online survey go to: www.surveymonkey.com/r/fitnessandcovid. If you have any questions or concerns contact Dr. Jason Brandenburg at Jason.brandenburg@ufv.ca.

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