DAN ADDISON | UVA COMMUNICATIONS
Zhen Yan set out to show the physiological impact of exercise on COVID-19 outcomes
Regular exercise may help people survive COVID-19
P R O F E S S O R Z H E N YA N DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR SKELETAL MUSCLE RESEARCH, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
pproximately 80 per cent of confirmed COVID-19 patients have mild symptoms, make a good recovery and don’t need respiratory support, while others become extremely unwell and need life support. Professor Zhen Yan at the University of Virginia set out to find out why outcomes are so mixed. Yan found regular exercise may reduce the risk of complications in people with COVID-19, as well as oﬀering
April 2020 ©Cybertrek 2020
the potential for alternative treatment approaches going forward. He studied an antioxidant called extracellular superoxide dismutase (EcSOD) that’s released by the muscles and into the bloodstream during exercise. His work “strongly supports” the possibility that higher levels of EcSOD in the body can prevent or at least reduce the severity of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) – one of the worst outcomes of the COVID-19 virus.
EcSOD does this by hunting down free radicals, binding to organs and protecting tissues from attack by the virus. “Our findings strongly support that enhanced EcSOD expression from skeletal muscle…which can be redistributed to lung tissue, could be a viable preventative and therapeutic measure in reducing the risk and severity of ARDS in COVID-19 patients,” he said. Research suggests that even a single session of exercise increases the