Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic is causing devastating global morbidity and mortality. Worldwide measures are taken to prevent human to human transmission and improve general health. Public lifestyle and health are affected by social distancing and isolation. A strong host immune response to the novel coronavirus is a key factor, for protection against infection and avoiding reaching severe stages of the disease.
Areas covered: Pathophysiology and the human immune response of similar coronaviruses have been previously described. The novel coronavirus has distinct clinical stages related to the immune response. Exercise improves host innate immunity and affords protection to viral infections. Exercise also mitigates the negative effects of isolation including stress, anxiety, and sedentarism, all of which further reduces immunity and increases non-communicable disease risk.
Expert opinion: Improving host immunity and mitigating the negative effects of isolation via physical activity is strongly justified. Exercise should be done in moderate intensities and volumes during the current pandemic, which is a nutritionally, psychologically, socially challenging environment in the presence of a virulent viral organism. Proactively creating innovative health promotion models with technology and government involvement with the best available evidence should be encouraged to reduce physical inactivity during the current COVID-19 pandemic and after.
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-COV-2; exercise; immunity; immunology; isolation; novel coronavirus; pandemic; physical activity; quarantine; social distancing.