Reduce risk of severe Covid with regular activity, study says. Here's how to get in 22 minutes of exercise daily

A cyclist rides in Central Park in New York City, April 10. Physical inactivity is linked to more severe Covid infection and a heightened risk of dying from the disease, a new study has found.

Dana Santas, known as the "Mobility Maker," is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and mind-body coach in professional sports, and is the author of the book "Practical Solutions for Back Pain Relief."

(CNN)A history of being consistently active is strongly associated with a reduced risk of severe Covid-19, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The Kaiser Permanente study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, looked at nearly 50,000 adults with Covid-19. The research found that those who met the target of the US Department of Health and Human Services' physical activity guidelines -- of at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity -- showed significantly lower incidences of hospitalization, ICU admission and death due to Covid-19 illness.
The guidelines, which are the same as the World Health Organization guidelines used by many nations, are based on research supporting the ability of physical activity to boost immune function, reduce systemic inflammation, increase pulmonary and cardiovascular health, and improve mental health.
    With all those benefits regular movement brings, it may not be that surprising that physical activity meeting these guidelines also would lessen the severity of symptoms of Covid-19. Indeed, acute Covid illness is just one of the many potential negative impacts of sedentary behavior, a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, stroke and some cancers.
      To date, the risk factors for severe Covid-19, as identified by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include being of advanced age, being male, and having underlying comorbidities, such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.
        Many of the listed risk factors are difficult — if not impossible — to mitigate, so it's understandable if you feel powerless in the face of some of them. However, the results of this new study could, arguably, add inactivity to the top of that list. Since inactivity is a modifiable risk factor, you can absolutely control it! Read on to learn how.
        To reach the 150-minute exercise threshold over the course of a week, you need to exercise just under 22 minutes daily. For someone who doesn't exercise on a regular basis, that might sound a bit overwhelming. But 22 minutes a day doesn't have to mean signing up for a new gym membership, investing in a treadmill, or completely revamping your schedule.
          With the right strategies, you can accomplish your daily exercise goal with very little disruption to your lifestyle, which is important for being able to sustain your new activity level.
          Here are five practical, sustainable strategies to help you get in 22 active minutes a day.
          Important note: Before beginning any new exercise program, consult your doctor. Stop immediately if you experience pain.

          1. Take regular walks

          Because walking is so accessible, it's easy to discount its benefits. The reality, though, is that a brisk walk is one of the most underrated, health-boosting, fat-burning exercises available to humankind.
          If you regularly walk a dog companion, extending the route is an easy way to get in 22 minutes of activity every day.
          You probably already walk at least a little bit each day. Maybe you walk to your mailbox or from your car to your office. Would it be possible for you to add in a five- or 10-minute walk around the neighborhood before getting the mail or entering your office?
          Do you have a dog you walk daily? Could you add time to your daily dog walks?
          If you don't already take regular walks, is there an activity that you enjoy and wish you did more often that you could pair with your walk, like talking on the phone with a friend or family member or listening to podcasts, audio books or music? By pairing an activity you enjoy with your walk, it will make it something you look forward to doing more of on a regular basis and will make it easier to add walking to your daily schedule.

          2. Practice short spurts of activity

          The physical activity guidelines don't specify that you need to exercise in large chunks of time each day. What's important is that you reach the 150-minute goal each week. You can break up your activities into whatever time frames are most manageable for your lifestyle.