Slow walkers 4 times more likely to die from COVID-19

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In a new study, researchers found that slow walkers are almost 4 times more likely to die from COVID-19, and have over twice the risk of contracting a severe version of the virus.

This is the first study to show that slow walkers have a much higher risk of contracting severe COVID-19 outcomes, irrespective of their weight.

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Leicester.

Previous research already found that obesity and frailty are key risk factors for COVID-19 outcomes.

In the study, the team examined 412,596 middle-aged UK Biobank participants.

They focused on the link of body mass index (BMI) and self-reported walking pace with the risk of severe COVID-19 and COVID-19 death

The analysis found slow walkers of normal weight to be almost 2.5 times more likely to develop severe COVID-19 and 3.75 times more likely to die from the virus than normal-weight fast walkers.

A further key finding was that normal-weight slow walkers are more at risk for both severe COVID-19 and COVID-19 mortality than fast walkers with obesity.

Furthermore, the risk was uniformly high in normal weight slow walkers and slow walkers with obesity.

The team says fast walkers generally have good cardiovascular and heart health, making them more resilient to external stressors, including viral infection but this hypothesis has not yet been established for infectious disease.

Doctors should consider simple measures of physical fitness such as self-reported walking pace in addition to BMI, as potential risk predictors of COVID-19 outcomes that could ultimately enable better prevention methods that save lives.

One author of the study is Professor Tom Yates.

The study is published in the International Journal of Obesity.

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