Regular Sports Participation as a Potential Predictor of Better Clinical Outcome in Adult Patients With COVID-19: A Large Cross-Sectional Study

J Phys Act Health. 2021 Jan 1;18(1):8-12. doi: 10.1123/jpah.2020-0392. Epub 2020 Dec 1.


Purpose: To compare the severity outcomes of COVID-19 disease between patients with and without regular sports participation.

Methods: In a cross-sectional study, the authors investigated all patients who visited the emergency department of Imam Khomeini hospital with signs and symptoms of COVID-19 from February 20 to April 20, 2020. Then the authors assessed all patient outcomes (outpatient vs hospitalization or death). Finally, the authors compared the outcomes between athletes with regular sports participation and others, adjusting for confounding factors of age and sex.

Results: Of all 4694 adult patients, 249 individuals (137 males and 112 females with mean [SD] age of 36.45 [9.77] y) had regular participation in different sport disciplines. Overall, 30 (12%) athletes were hospitalized or died (30 and 0, respectively) compared with 957 (21.5%) nonathletes (878 and 79, respectively). Athletes with regular sports participation were 1.49 times less likely to be hospitalized (P = .044).

Conclusions: Regular sports participation may positively affect the clinical outcome, regardless of confounding factors of age and sex. The probability of hospitalization in athletes with regular sports participation was 33% lower than nonathletes. However, more longitudinal studies are needed to determine the causal effects.

Keywords: exercise; morbidity; mortality; public health.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletes
  • COVID-19 / diagnosis*
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Male
  • Sports*