Leisure-time Physical Activity Linked To Much Lower Risk of Flu or Pneumonia Death

25 May 2023 • Regular aerobic exercise, popularly known as “cardio,” is linked to a significantly lower risk of death from flu or pneumonia, even at weekly levels below those recommended, finds research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. They drew on the responses of 577,909 adults who had taken part in the US nationally representative National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) between 1998 and 2018.

  • Participants were classified as meeting both physical activity guidelines if they reported ≥150 min/week of moderate-intensity equivalent aerobic physical activity and ≥2 episodes/week of muscle-strengthening activity.
  • Among 577 909 participants followed for a median of 9.23 years, 1516 influenza and pneumonia deaths were recorded. Compared with participants meeting neither guideline, those meeting both guidelines had 48% lower adjusted risk of influenza and pneumonia mortality.
  • When it came to muscle strengthening activities, compared with fewer than 2 weekly sessions, meeting the weekly target of 2 was associated with a 47% lower risk, but 7 or more sessions were associated with a 41% higher risk.

Aerobic exercise, which includes brisk/speed walking, swimming, running, and stair climbing, is sustained, increasing heart rate and working up a sweat. Muscle strengthening activities include the use of weights and resistance bands; exercises such as squats, lunges, and press-ups; and heavy gardening. The researchers conclude: “Efforts to reduce influenza and pneumonia mortality among adults might focus on decreasing the prevalence of aerobic inactivity and increasing the prevalence of achieving 2 episodes/week of muscle-strengthening activity".

Source: BMJ | Read full story

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