Leisure Time Physical Activity and SARS-CoV-2 Infection among ELSA-Brasil Participants

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Oct 29;19(21):14155. doi: 10.3390/ijerph192114155.


The regular practice of physical activity (PA) can reduce the chance of aggravation of the disease and lower rates of hospitalization and mortality from COVID-19, but few studies have analyzed the association of PA with the risk of infection by SARS-CoV-2. The aim of the study was to analyze the association between PA and self-reported SARS-CoV-2 infection. A longitudinal study was conducted with data from 4476 ELSA-Brasil participants who had their PA analyzed twice, once in 2016-2018 and again in 2020. PA was identified using the IPAQ at both follow-up moments and categorized into four groups: (a) remained physically inactive (reference); (b) remained physically active; (c) became physically active in the second moment; and (d) became physically inactive in the second moment. The variables of age, sex, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and specific protective practices against COVID-19 were tested as possible confounders. Data were analyzed by logistic regression. A 95% confidence interval (CI) was used. Remaining physically active was associated with a 43% reduction in the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection only among those who used specific practices to protect against COVID-19, OR = 0.57 and CI = 0.32-0.99. The results suggested that regular practice of PA can reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, especially among those who have used specific practices to protect against COVID-19 during the pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; physical activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2

Grants and funding

The authors disclose receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship and publication of this article. The ELSA-Brasil is supported by the Brazilian Ministry of Health and the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Funding Agency for Studies and Projects, FINEP; and this study was supported by National Council for Scientific and Technological Development - CNPq), through grant nos. 405551/2015-0 BA, 405544/2015-4 RJ, 405552/2015-7 MG, 405543/2015-8 ES, and 405545/2015-0 RS.