The COVID-19 Conundrum: Keeping safe while becoming inactive. A rapid review of physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and exercise in adults by gender and age.
PloS one. 2022;(1):e0263053
BACKGROUND Coronavirus (COVID-19) has severely impacted lifestyles worldwide. Responses to COVID-19 have intentionally restricted the factors that encourage regular and frequent PA; opportunity, capability and motivation. However, the effects of these restrictions are likely to have differed by gender and age and different intensities of PA. This rapid review builds on previous evidence by synthesising the global impact of COVID-19 on adult PA through specific intensities and types of PA and evaluating this by gender and age. METHODS A rapid systematic search of seven electronic databases (PubMed, MEDLINE, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus, Academic Search Complete, APA PsycInfo, and APA PsycArticles) was performed from December 2019 to January 2021. Studies investigating adult change in PA, exercise or sedentary behaviour due to COVID-19 were included. RESULTS From an initial database search identifying 3,863 articles, 66 remained for synthesis after applying eligibility criteria. Results demonstrate decreases among all intensities and types of PA-walking (6 out of 7 papers), moderate-only (5 out of 6 papers), vigorous-only (5 out of 6 papers) and MVPA (4 out of 5 papers); as well as overall PA (14-72% participants reported a decrease). Reflecting that COVID-19 responses were designed to have universal effects, they also achieved whole-society decreases in PA behaviour, accented in older age groups. CONCLUSION There is a universal need to address the low levels of PA post-COVID-19. The consequences of decreased PA across all intensities has powerful, potentially recoverable, impacts. Universal declines have implications for public health officials and PA advocates for post-COVID-19 initiatives to promote PA.
The effect of the protective face mask on cardiorespiratory response during aerobic exercise.
Clinical and experimental pharmacology & physiology. 2022;(4):453-461
The protective face mask (PFM) has been widely used for safety purposes and, after the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, its use is growing steadily, not only among healthcare personnel but also the general population. While the PFM is important to preserve the wearer from contaminating agents present in the airflow, they are well known to increase the subjective perception of breathing difficulty. Although some studies have demonstrated that PFM use worsens exercise tolerance, several studies state that there is no such limitation with the use of PFM. Moreover, no serious adverse effects during physical exercise have been found in the literature. Physical exercise represents a significant challenge to the human body through a series of integrated changes in function that involve most of its physiologic systems. In this respect, cardiovascular and respiratory systems provide the capacity to sustain physical tasks over extended periods. Within this scenario, both convective oxygen (O2 ) transport (product of arterial O2 content × blood flow) to the working locomotor muscles and O2 diffusive transport from muscle capillaries to mitochondria are of paramount importance to endurance performance. Interestingly, the effects of PFM on cardiorespiratory response during aerobic exercise depends on the type of mask and exercise (i.e., walking, running, or cycling), the ventilatory demands, arterial oxygen levels, maximal oxygen consumption and endurance performance. The purpose of this review is to elucidate the effect of protective face mask-wearing on (1) cardiorespiratory responses during aerobic exercise and (2) endurance performance.
Changes in physical activity levels, eating habits and psychological well-being during the Italian COVID-19 pandemic lockdown: Impact of socio-demographic factors on the Florentine academic population.
PloS one. 2021;(5):e0252395
The confinement and lockdown imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic have produced restrictions in the lifestyle of Italian citizens with variations in their psychological well-being. The aim of the study was to identify changes and relationship with socio-demographic parameters. An online survey was administered to 1383 subjects (1007 females and 307 males) working in the University of Florence, Italy. Three validated questionnaires were used for the survey: the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire, the Med Diet Score and the Psychological General Well-Being Index-A. All the subjects were asked to complete the questionnaires twice, in order to attain a picture of the habits before and a later time point during confinement. Our results show that work-related physical activity was decreased, along with an increase in sedentary behaviour (from 07:22±03:20 to 08:49±03:41 h:min; p<0.001, ES = 0.38), whereas recreational physical activity was increased (vigorous exercise varied from 568.5 ± 838.6 to 833.7 ± 1263.0 METs; p<0.002, ES = 0.25). Eating habits changed according to the place where meals were eaten, with an increased habit for breakfast and snacks and a slight increase in alcohol consumption. Psychological well-being decreased (Index from 21.4±3.9 to 18.0±5.3; p<0.001, ES = 0.723), especially in terms of vitality and positive thinking. The socio-demographic variables affecting these variations were mostly represented by age, gender and working conditions: young age and self-employment conditions can be considered factors for the changes in daily habits induced by confinement that may affect psychological well-being.
Physical activity, mental health and well-being of adults during initial COVID-19 containment strategies: A multi-country cross-sectional analysis.
Journal of science and medicine in sport. 2021;(4):320-326
OBJECTIVES To assess physical activity (PA), mental health and well-being of adults in the United Kingdom (UK), Ireland, New Zealand and Australia during the initial stages of National governments' Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) containment responses. DESIGN Observational, cross-sectional. METHODS An online survey was disseminated to adults (n=8,425; 44.5±14.8y) residing in the UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia within the first 2-6 weeks of government-mandated COVID-19 restrictions. Main outcome measures included: Stages of Change scale for exercise behaviour change; International Physical Activity Questionnaire (short-form); World Health Organisation-5 Well-being Index; and the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale-9. RESULTS Participants who reported a negative change in exercise behaviour from before initial COVID-19 restrictions to during the initial COVID-19 restrictions demonstrated poorer mental health and well-being compared to those demonstrating either a positive-or no change in their exercise behaviour (p<0.001). Whilst women reported more positive changes in exercise behaviour, young people (18-29y) reported more negative changes (both p<0.001). Individuals who had more positive exercise behaviours reported better mental health and well-being (p<0.001). Although there were no differences in PA between countries, individuals in New Zealand reported better mental health and well-being (p<0.001). CONCLUSION The initial COVID-19 restrictions have differentially impacted upon PA habits of individuals based upon their age and sex, and therefore have important implications for international policy and guideline recommendations. Public health interventions that encourage PA should target specific groups (e.g., men, young adults) who are most vulnerable to the negative effects of physical distancing and/or self-isolation.
Role of Exercise Intensity on Th1/Th2 Immune Modulations During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Frontiers in immunology. 2021;:761382
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to several pioneering scientific discoveries resulting in no effective solutions with the exception of vaccination. Moderate exercise is a significant non-pharmacological strategy, to reduce the infection-related burden of COVID-19, especially in patients who are obese, elderly, and with additional comorbidities. The imbalance of T helper type 1 (Th1) or T helper type 2 (Th2) cells has been well documented among populations who have suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and who are at maximum risk of infection and mortality. Moderate and low intensity exercise can benefit persons at risk from the disease and survivors by favorable modulation in Th1/Th2 ratios. Moreover, in COVID-19 patients, mild to moderate intensity aerobic exercise also increases immune system function but high intensity aerobic exercise may have adverse effects on immune responses. In addition, sustained hypoxia in COVID-19 patients has been reported to cause organ failure and cell death. Hypoxic conditions have also been highlighted to be triggered in COVID-19-susceptible individuals and COVID-19 survivors. This suggests that hypoxia inducible factor (HIF 1α) might be an important focus for researchers investigating effective strategies to minimize the effects of the pandemic. Intermittent hypoxic preconditioning (IHP) is a method of exposing subjects to short bouts of moderate hypoxia interspersed with brief periods of normal oxygen concentrations (recovery). This methodology inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory factors, activates HIF-1α to activate target genes, and subsequently leads to a higher production of red blood cells and hemoglobin. This increases angiogenesis and increases oxygen transport capacity. These factors can help alleviate virus induced cardiopulmonary hemodynamic disorders and endothelial dysfunction. Therefore, during the COVID-19 pandemic we propose that populations should engage in low to moderate exercise individually designed, prescribed and specific, that utilizes IHP including pranayama (yoga), swimming and high-altitude hiking exercise. This would be beneficial in affecting HIF-1α to combat the disease and its severity. Therefore, the promotion of certain exercises should be considered by all sections of the population. However, exercise recommendations and prescription for COVID-19 patients should be structured to match individual levels of capability and adaptability.
Considerations for assessing physical function and physical activity in clinical trials during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Contemporary clinical trials. 2021;:106407
The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has changed the conduct of clinical trials. For studies with physical function and physical activity outcomes that require in-person participation, thoughtful approaches in transitioning to the remote research environment are critical. Here, we share our experiences in transitioning from in-person to remote assessments of physical function and activity during the pandemic and highlight key considerations for success. Details on the development of the remote assessment protocol, integration of a two-way video platform, and implementation of remote assessments are addressed. In particular, procedural challenges and considerations in transitioning and conducting remote assessments will be discussed in terms of efforts to maintain participant safety, maximize study efficiency, and sustain trial integrity. Plans for triangulation and analysis are also discussed. Although the role of telehealth platforms and research activities in remote settings are still growing, our experiences suggest that adopting remote assessment strategies are useful and convenient in assessing study outcomes during, and possibly even beyond, the current pandemic. Trial register and number: ClinicalTrials.gov [NCT03728257].
Sustaining efficient immune functions with regular physical exercise in the COVID-19 era and beyond.
European journal of clinical investigation. 2021;(5):e13485
The new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) appearance in Wuhan, China, did rise the new virus disease (COVID-19), which spread globally in a short time, leading the World Health Organization to declare a new global pandemic. To contain and mitigate the spread of SARS-CoV-2, specific public health procedures were implemented in virtually all countries, with a significant impact on society, making it difficult to keep the regular practice of physical activity. It is widely accepted that an active lifestyle contributes to the improvement of general health and preservation of cardiovascular, respiratory, osteo-muscular and immune system capacities. The positive effects of regular physical activity on the immune system have emerged as a pivotal trigger of general health, underlying the beneficial effects of physical activity on multiple physiological systems. Accordingly, recent studies have already pointed out the negative impact of physical inactivity caused by the social isolation imposed by the public sanitary authorities due to COVID-19. Nevertheless, there are still no current narrative reviews evaluating the real impact of COVID-19 on active lifestyle or even discussing the possible beneficial effects of exercise-promoted immune upgrade against the severity or progression of COVID-19. Based on the consensus in the scientific literature, in this review, we discuss how an exercise adherence could adequately improve immune responses in times of the 'COVID-19 Era and beyond'.
Face Masks and the Cardiorespiratory Response to Physical Activity in Health and Disease.
Annals of the American Thoracic Society. 2021;(3):399-407
To minimize transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the novel coronavirus responsible for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization recommend wearing face masks in public. Some have expressed concern that these may affect the cardiopulmonary system by increasing the work of breathing, altering pulmonary gas exchange and increasing dyspnea, especially during physical activity. These concerns have been derived largely from studies evaluating devices intentionally designed to severely affect respiratory mechanics and gas exchange. We review the literature on the effects of various face masks and respirators on the respiratory system during physical activity using data from several models: cloth face coverings and surgical masks, N95 respirators, industrial respirators, and applied highly resistive or high-dead space respiratory loads. Overall, the available data suggest that although dyspnea may be increased and alter perceived effort with activity, the effects on work of breathing, blood gases, and other physiological parameters imposed by face masks during physical activity are small, often too small to be detected, even during very heavy exercise. There is no current evidence to support sex-based or age-based differences in the physiological responses to exercise while wearing a face mask. Although the available data suggest that negative effects of using cloth or surgical face masks during physical activity in healthy individuals are negligible and unlikely to impact exercise tolerance significantly, for some individuals with severe cardiopulmonary disease, any added resistance and/or minor changes in blood gases may evoke considerably more dyspnea and, thus, affect exercise capacity.
Recent Progress in Applicability of Exercise Immunology and Inflammation Research to Sports Nutrition.
This article focuses on how nutrition may help prevent and/or assist with recovery from the harmful effects of strenuous acute exercise and physical training (decreased immunity, organ injury, inflammation, oxidative stress, and fatigue), with a focus on nutritional supplements. First, the effects of ketogenic diets on metabolism and inflammation are considered. Second, the effects of various supplements on immune function are discussed, including antioxidant defense modulators (vitamin C, sulforaphane, taheebo), and inflammation reducers (colostrum and hyperimmunized milk). Third, how 3-hydroxy-3-methyl butyrate monohydrate (HMB) may offset muscle damage is reviewed. Fourth and finally, the relationship between exercise, nutrition and COVID-19 infection is briefly mentioned. While additional verification of the safety and efficacy of these supplements is still necessary, current evidence suggests that these supplements have potential applications for health promotion and disease prevention among athletes and more diverse populations.
Heart up! RCT protocol to increase physical activity in cardiac patients who report hopelessness: Amended for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Research in nursing & health. 2021;(2):279-294
Hopelessness is associated with decreased physical activity (PA) and increased adverse events and death in patients with ischemic heart disease (IHD). Rates of PA in patients with IHD continue to be low in both hospital-based cardiac rehabilitation and home settings. While researchers have investigated strategies to increase PA among patients with IHD, interventions to promote PA specifically in IHD patients who report hopelessness are lacking. We describe the protocol for a NIH-funded randomized controlled trial designed to establish the effectiveness of a 6-week intervention (Heart Up!) to promote increased PA in IHD patients who report hopelessness. Participants (n = 225) are randomized to one of three groups: (1) motivational social support (MSS) from a nurse, (2) MSS from a nurse plus significant other support (SOS), or (3) attention control. Aims are to: (1) test the effectiveness of 6 weeks of MSS and MSS with SOS on increasing mean minutes per day of moderate to vigorous PA; (2) determine the effects of change in moderate to vigorous PA on hopelessness; and (3) determine if perceived social support and motivation (exercise self-regulation) mediate the effects of the intervention on PA. A total of 69 participants have been enrolled to date. The protocol has been consistently and accurately used by research personnel. We address the protocol challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and steps taken to maintain fidelity to the intervention. Findings from this study could transform care for IHD patients who report hopelessness by promoting self-management of important PA goals that can contribute to better health outcomes.