Study found regular exercise lowers risk of pneumonia

The relationship was shown for cases of pneumonia that did not result in death and those that resulted in death.

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According to new research, people who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing pneumonia as well as dying from it. The study has been published in the ‘GeroScience Journal’. The benefits of regular exercise are well-known and can reduce the risk, length or severity of infectious diseases. Previous research had suggested that regular exercise might be associated with a reduced risk of pneumonia, but the studies have had mixed findings with some reporting evidence of a relationship and others no evidence. The researchers carried out a pooled analysis of all published studies to re-evaluate the relationship between regular exercise and the risk of developing pneumonia.

The study found people who exercise regularly had a lower risk of developing pneumonia and pneumonia-related death compared to those who were the least or not physically active. The relationship was shown for cases of pneumonia that did not result in death and those that resulted in death. The results did not change on taking into account known factors that can affect pneumonia such as age, sex, body mass index, socioeconomic status, alcohol consumption, smoking, and pre-existing diseases. The strength of the association did not vary by age or sex.

Dr Setor Kunutsor, Senior Lecturer in Evidence Synthesis in the Bristol Medical School: Translational Health Sciences (THS) and corresponding author on the paper, said, “In this first-ever pooled analysis of all studies conducted on the topic, we found strong and convincing evidence of a relationship between regular exercise and reduction in a person’s risk of developing pneumonia as well as death from the disease.”

“Though our study could not determine the amount and intensity of physical activity, which is essential to prevent pneumonia, some of the results suggest that walking for 30 minutes once a week has a protective effect on death due to pneumonia,” he added.

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