Press releases for the 2020 APS Integrative Physiology of Exercise conference.

COVID-19 Impacting Our Health along Multiple Axes

Nov 9, 2020, 07:00 AM by Coleen Kitaguchi
Complex Effects of Pandemic on Health Presented at Exercise Conference

Rockville, Md. (November 9, 2020)—Experts in exercise physiology are grappling with the myriad ways SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, affects different populations. The research will be presented virtually at the American Physiological Society (APS) Integrative Physiology of Exercise (IPE) conference.

Long-term Effects of COVID-19 Post Recovery

A team from Universidade Federal de Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, studied the long-term health consequences of COVID-19. The team surveyed four men and six women who recovered from COVID-19 in the state of Pernambuco, Brazil. The patients ranged in age from 40 to 61. The average length of their hospitalization was 47.5 days. The survey results demonstrate that despite recovering, patients suffered a loss in “maximum functional capacity” and reduced scores in a metric for quality of life called the Short Form-36 score.

How the Pandemic Has Changed Our Exercise Habits in (Sometimes) Positive Ways

The health disruptions caused by COVID-19 reverberate even beyond those who have contracted SARS-CoV-2. As the pandemic triggers moves to limit contact and thus transmission, many have found their daily routines, including their exercise habits, changing. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends adults between 18 and 64 get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week. WHO identifies physical inactivity as the “fourth leading risk factor for global mortality” and attributes approximately 3.2 million deaths a year to insufficient physical activity.

A survey of 873 individuals from across the U.S. examined how these disruptions have altered exercise habits. The researchers found over half (60.5%) of respondents met the 150-minute recommendations during the pandemic. This number represented a 7.8% increase from the portion of respondents who had been meeting the recommendations prior to the pandemic. They also found an 11.3% increase in the portion of people who exceed these guidelines. However, the researchers also registered that intensity of exercise “significantly decreased,” a change attributed to lack of access to facilities and classes, as reported in the open-ended portion of the survey.    

Alcohol Use Increases among People Living with HIV during Stay-at-home Order

Researchers at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans honed in on one population particularly at risk during the pandemic: people living with HIV with at-risk alcohol use. They surveyed 80 people living with HIV in Louisiana during that state’s stay-at-home order, recruiting participants from the ongoing longitudinal Aging in Louisiana: Immunosenescence, HIV and Socioenvironmental Factors-Exercise (ALIVE-Ex) study. The respondents were categorized by their pre-pandemic alcohol use as low or at risk. Both low- and at-risk groups reported greater frequency of becoming drunk or tipsy during the stay-at-home order, with the greatest increase being in the at-risk group. The at-risk group also reported less healthy dietary and physical activity habits during the order. The researchers urge “consideration of patients’ alcohol use habits and the need for integrative interventions to encourage healthy eating and physical activity, especially when self-isolating or under stressful conditions such as during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: The APS Integrative Physiology of Exercise will be held November 9–13 on a virtual platform. To schedule an interview with the conference organizers or presenters, contact the APS Communications Office or call 301.634.7314. Find more research highlights in the APS Newsroom.

Physiology is a broad area of scientific inquiry that focuses on how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. The American Physiological Society connects a global, multidisciplinary community of more than 10,000 biomedical scientists and educators as part of its mission to advance scientific discovery, understand life and improve health. The Society drives collaboration and spotlights scientific discoveries through its 16 scholarly journals and programming that support researchers and educators in their work.

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