Does exercise have healing and preventive roles in COVID-19 pandemic?




COVID-19, Exercise, Pandemic


The COVID-19 pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which occurred in Wuhan in China on December 31, 2019, spread rapidly to 6 continents and hundreds of countries. Scientists continue to work on effective treatment protocols and vaccine development to stop the spread of this pandemic. Currently, anti-virus strategies are as important as treatment methods. It is known that physical exercise is one of the pillars of a healthy life and reduces the risk of developing non-infectious diseases which endanger the immune system significantly. Besides, regular moderate intensity exercise has preventive effects against cardiovascular diseases, respiratory tract infections, obesity, and diabetes. In this review, we aimed to discuss whether physical activity has a protective effect and present new information to ameliorate the wellbeing of individuals during the pandemic, so they are less affected by COVID-19. From this point of view, experimental and clinical studies on this subject were analyzed. Literature reviews showed that maintaining physical exercise during the COVID-19 outbreak is crucial for the recovery of patients with obesity, lung, and heart diseases. However, it can be said that asymptomatic young and middle-aged individuals with positive COVID-19 tests can overcome the disease more easily and in a shorter time.


Download data is not yet available.


Zhu N, Zhang D, Wang W, Li X, Yang B, Song J, et al. A Novel Coronavirus from Patients with Pneumonia in China, N Engl J Med. 2020;382(8):727-33.

Jiménez-Pavón D, Carbonell-Baeza A, Lavie CJ. Physical exercise as therapy to fight against the mental and physical consequences of COVID-19 quarantine: Special focus in older people. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases. doi: 10.1016/j.pcad.2020.03.009

Coronavirus disease 2019 [Internet]. World Health Organization. 2020 [cited 2020 January 6]. Available from: coronavirus-2019 Accessed: 30.12.2020.

Republıc of Turkey Ministry Covıd-19 Information Page. https://covid19.saglı Accessed: 30.12.2020.

Brooks SK, Webster RK, Smith LE, Woodland L, Wessely S, Greenberg N, et al. The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: Rapid review of the evidence. Lancet 2020;395(10227):912–20. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30460-8.

Fallon K. Exercise in the time of COVID-19. Aust J Gen Pract 2020;49 Suppl 13. doi: 10.31128/AJGP-COVID-13.

Ugras DA, Kına HM, Özkan S, Ilhan MN. Epidemiology of COVID-19: What We Learn From Pandemic. J Biotechnol and Strategic Health Res. 2020;1(special page):29-36.

Gorbalenya AE, Baker SC, Baric RS, de Groot RJ, Drosten C, Gulyaeva AA, et al. acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus: The species and its viruses – a statement of the Coronavirus Study Group. bioRxiv. 2020:2020.02.07.937862.

Chen H, Guo J, Wang C, Luo F, Yu X, Zhang W, et al. Clinical characteristics and intrauterine vertical transmission potential of COVID-19 infection in nine pregnant women: a retrospective review of medical records. The Lancet. 2020;395(10226):809-15. Accessed: 30.12.2020.

Rothe C, Schunk M, Sothmann P, Bretzel G, Froeschl G, Wallrauch C, et al. Transmission of 2019-nCoV Infection from an Asymptomatic Contact in Germany. N Engl J Med 2020; 382:970.17.

WHO. Coronavirus diease (COVID-19) situation reports.2020. default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200219-sitrep-30-covid-19.pdf3346b04f_2 Accessed: 30.12.2020.

Wu Z, McGoogan JM. Characteristics of and Important Lessons From the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak in China: Summary of a Report of 72 314 Cases From the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. JAMA 2020.

Guan W, Ni Z, Liang W, Ou C. Clinical Characteristics of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China.

Zhou F, Yu T, Du R, Fan G, Liu Y, Liu Z, et al. Clinical course and risk factors for mortality of adult inpatients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a retrospective cohort study. Lancet. 2020;395(10229):1054-62.

Wu Z, McGoogan JM. Characteristics of and Important Lessons From the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak in China: Summary of a Report of 72 314 Cases From the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. JAMA. 2020.

Grasselli G, Pesenti A, Cecconi M. Critical Care Utilization for the COVID-19 Outbreak in Lombardy, Italy: Early Experience and Forecast During an Emergency Response. Jama. 2020;13(2763188).

Costa Rosa LF. Exercise as a time-conditioning effector in chronic disease: a complementary treatment strategy. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2004;1:63-70.

Berk LS, Nieman DC, Youngberg WS, Arabatzis K, Simpson-Westerberg M, Lee JW, et al. The effect of long endurance running on natural killer cells in marathoners. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1990;22:207-12.

Pedersen BK, Kappel M, Kokker M, Nielsen HB, Secher NH. The immune system during exposure to extreme physiologic conditions. Int J Sports Med 1994; 15:116-21.

Arena R, McNeil A, Sagner M, Lavie CJ. Healthy living: the universal and timeless medicine for healthspan. Prog Cardiovasc Dis 2017;59:419-421.

Fletcher GF, Landolfo C, Niebauer J, Ozemek C, Arena R, Lavie CJ. Promoting physical activity and exercise: JACC health promotion series. J Am Coll Cardiol 2018;72:1622-1639

Davis JM, Kohut ML, Colbert LH, Jackson DA, Ghaffar A, Mayer EP, et al. Exercise, alveolar mac¬rophage function, and susceptibility to respiratory infection. J Appl Physiol 1997;83:1461–6.

Ahmed I. COVID-19 – does exercise prescription and maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) have a role in risk-stratifying patients? Clinical Medicine 2020 Vol 20, No3: 282–4.

Nieman DC, Wentz LM. The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s defence system. J Sport Health Sci 2019;8(3):201–17.doi: 10.1016/j.jshs.2018.09.009.

Grande AJ, Keogh J, Silva V, Scott AM. Exercise versus no exercise for the occurrence, severity, and duration of acute respiratory infections. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2020;4(4):CD010596.doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD010596.pub3.

Wong CM, Lai HK, Ou C-Q. Is exercise protective against influenza-associated mortality? PLoS One 2008; 3(5):e2108. doi: 10.1371/journal. pone.0002108.

Zhou G, Liu H, He M, Yue M, Gong P, Wu F, et al. Smoking, leisure-time exercise and frequency of self-reported common cold among the general population in northeastern China: across-sectional study. BMC Public Health 2018;18:294.

DR Laddu, CJ Lavie, SA Phillips, Arena R. Physical activity for immunity protection: Inoculating populations with healthy living medicine in preparation for the next pandemic, Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, doi: 10.1016/j.pcad.2020.04.006

Lavie CJ, Lee DC, Sui X, Arena R, O'Keefe JH, Church TS, et al. Effects of running on chronic diseases and cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. Mayo Clin Proc 2015;90:1541-1552.

Cadore EL, Sáez de Asteasu ML, Izquierdo M. Multicomponent exercise and the hallmarks of frailty: considerations on cognitive impairment and acute hospitalization. Exp Gerontol 2019;122:10-14.

Martínez-Velilla N, Casas-Herrero A, Zambom-Ferraresi F, Sáez de Asteasu ML, Lucia A, Galbete A, et al. Effect of exercise intervention on functional decline in very elderly patients during acute hospitalization: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med 2019;179(1):28-36.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Guidelines for preventive activities in general practice. 9th edn, updated. East Melbourne, Vic: RACGP, 2018.

World Health Organization. topics/healthemergencies/coronavirus-covid-19/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-technical guidance /stay-physically-active-during-self-quarantine 2020. Accessed: 30.12.2020.

American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s guidelines for exercise testing and prescription. 10th ed. Philadelphia; Wolters Kluwer: 2018.







How to Cite

Patlar S, Unal B, Bakum A, Böge V. Does exercise have healing and preventive roles in COVID-19 pandemic?. J Surg Med [Internet]. 2021 Apr. 1 [cited 2022 Jun. 25];5(4):385-8. Available from: