New Study About Fitness and COVID Could Help get Economic Relief to Affiliates, Eric Roza Hopes

April 30, 2021 by
Credit Eric Roza
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New research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine on April 13 revealed that greater physical activity levels help guard against severe cases and death from COVID-19.

  • To the CrossFit community — with our understanding of the health-wellness curve — the study should probably get the “No Shit” research of the year award, but the more scientific research that can support what we already know, the better, said CrossFit LLC CEO Eric Roza.
  • “The link between fitness and improved immunity to a host of diseases has already been established beyond a reasonable doubt, and it’s great to see this new study providing such strong evidence that this holds true for COVID-19 we well,” Roza told the Morning Chalk Up. 

One big thing: According to Roza, more than 100 members of Congress have joined CrossFit in  support of the GYMS Act to rebuild America’s fitness infrastructure by providing economic relief to thousands of independent gym owners, “so we can restore our health and strengthen our nation’s immunity against COVID-19 and future threats,” Roza explained of the Gym Mitigation and Survival Act. And medical research like this one can only bolster the initiative’s chances.

  • “The scientific backing of the medical community that fitness improves immunity to COVID is a key data point in support of the GYMS act,” Roza said.

The study details: The research included 48,440 adult COVID-19 patients from California and found that those who were the most active before catching the virus were less likely to be hospitalized or die from the illness.

  • Participants were grouped according to their workout frequency, the least active saying they exercise less than 10 minutes a week, and the most reporting they exercise 150 minutes or more per week. 
  • Those who exercised less than 10 minutes a week were hospitalized from COVID twice as much as those in the most active group, and were two-and-a-half times more likely to die from the illness.
  • Data about age, smoking habits, weight, diabetes, as well as other disease history, such as cancer or organ transplants, was also collected. Other than being elderly or having had an organ transplant, the number one risk factor for severe illness was the person’s physical activity level, reported Robert Sallis, the lead researcher in the study. 

Also notable: Similarly, research published earlier this year in the International Journal of Obesity found that faster walkers experienced severe COVID symptoms less frequently than those who walk slowly, while a European study found that greater grip strength, commonly recognized as a sign of upper body strength, decreased the chance of being hospitalized from COVID.

The bottom line: Thirteen months later, many countries are still in the thick of the pandemic. Canada, for example, is currently experiencing a third wave, and gyms in provinces like Ontario and Quebec are still closed, and have not operated indoors since the start of the pandemic. 

How many people could have been helped by CrossFit gyms around the world over the past 12 months? To lose weight, or put their diabetes into remission, and ultimately avoid severe cases of COVID-19 if the medical comnuity had acknowledged gyms as a place that can both operate safely and help improve health outcomes from COVID-19? 

  • Consider this: The Ryan Ferns Healthplex in Benwood, WV helped more than 20 Type 2 diabetes clients in 2019 put their diabetes into remission and come off their insulin within a matter of months. Similarly, Becky Clements put her diabetes in remission during COVID-19 in just six months of CrossFit and eating healthy. The point is, it happens fast.

Instead, as the pandemic roars on, many gyms around the world remain closed, and according to Roza, more than 25 percent of gyms in the United States shut their doors in the last year. Possibly for good.

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