By Jason Clements, Owner/Manager Bluewater Fitness
As more and more people are becoming exposed to the COVID-19 virus, more data is available to fully understand its effects and the treatments necessary to help in recovery. Authors of an article published in the journal Medical Hypotheses suspect that exercise may be beneficial in helping to counteract some of the COVID-19 effects.
In a healthy person, a molecule called PPARa helps regulate lipid metabolism in lung tissue and plays a role in endothelial cells’ health (cells lining the inside of blood vessels). When a person contracts COVID-19, disruptions to PPARa caused by the infection can lead to inflammation and damage to the lung. PPARa may have anti-inflammatory effects, with the authors noting that using drugs that activate PPARa, called PPARa agonists, might play a therapeutic role by helping to reverse some of the changes to inflammation and metabolic processes caused by COVID-19 infection. In particular, one drug called fenofibrate, prevented lipid accumulation in cells infected with the virus, blocking its replication.
This medication may help counteract some adverse effects typically associated with COVID-19 and lower levels of PPARa and, according to the authors, exercise may have a similar effect. They outline several studies and conclude that there is limited but compelling evidence supporting a role for exercise in moderating PPARa levels in various organs and tissues. They note “exercise has also been shown to benefit endothelial function and inflammation, and may play a role in regeneration and repair of injured endothelial cells.”
The authors also point out that viral infection-related reductions in PPARa, and the associated changes to metabolism and inflammation, may affect exercise capacity. They assert that “changes in PPARa from COVID-19 may prime the body for fatigue, inactivity and obesity. Exercise and increases in cardiorespiratory fitness may thus be needed for secondary prevention to mitigate the possibility of further disuse, chronic disease and disability.”
In addition to the key roles exercise plays in immune function and metabolic health, if this hypothesis proves to be correct, it could also counteract some adverse effects of COVID-19 infection related to inflammation and lung injury.