Physical Activity and COVID-19

People who do little or no physical activity are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 than those who are physically active. Specific findings from a CDC systematic reviewpdf icon found that physical activity is associated with a decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, while inactivity increases that risk.

Additional Benefits of Physical Activity

Physical activity is one of the best ways people can improve their health now and in the future. People who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits. Physical activity is important for:

A family  dancing in the living room
  • Mental health and cognitive function: Physical activity can have immediate benefits for mood, including reducing feelings of anxiety. In the long term, it can reduce the risk of dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease) and depression.
  • Reducing risk of chronic conditions: Regular physical activity helps reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.
  • Sleep: Physical activity can improve sleep quality. Getting enough sleep is not a luxury—it’s fundamental to good health.
  • Immune function: Emerging research suggests physical activity may also boost immune function.

Physical Activity Matters—For Our Nation and For Our Communities

How Much Physical Activity Do I Need?

Too few Americans get the recommended amount of physical activity.

  • 1 in 4 adults is inactive, meaning they don’t get any physical activity outside of their regular job.
  • CDC maps show significant disparities in levels of inactivity by location and race/ethnicity. The lowest rate of inactivity was 17.7% (Colorado) and the highest was 49.4% (Puerto Rico).
  • Only about 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 6 high school students fully meets physical activity guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.

Physical inactivity costs lives and dollars.

  • Inactivity contributes to 1 in 10 premature deaths.
  • Inadequate levels of physical activity are associated with $117 billion in annual health care costs.
  • If US adults increased their average physical activity participation just 10 minutes per day, over 110,000 lives per year could be saved.

What Can Be Done

A woman walking on a bridge

Reducing physical inactivity requires a comprehensive effort from many groups—including states, communities, worksites, and individuals—to make it easier for everyone to move more. Community leaders, for example, can encourage school and youth physical activity programs, and can educate and support families and individuals to be more active.

Disparities in physical inactivity underscore the need to address barriers to physical activity for everyone. Examples include lack of safe spaces for physical activity such as parks, unsafe streets with high-speed traffic and no sidewalks, lack of time, and lack of social supports.

Everyone has a role to play to increase physical activity. Learn more about strategies to increase physical activity and get involved in Active People, Healthy NationSM, CDC’s national initiative to help 27 million people become more physically active by 2027.

Individuals and families can build physical activity into their everyday routines. See recommended physical activity amounts for people ages 3 years and older.

What CDC, Partners, States, and Communities Are Doing

A father and son with a basketball

Our work with partners, states, and communities makes it easier for everyone to move more where they live, learn, work, and play. Together, we work to remove barriers and promote health and wellness for all by:

  • Bringing communities together to plan and carry out local, culturally tailored interventions to address physical inactivity.
  • Designing communities that connect sidewalks, bicycle routes, and public transportation with homes, early care and education settings, schools, parks, and workplaces.
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