Study: Exercise Can Protect Against Deadly COVID-19 Complications - Save Our Bones

A top exercise researcher, Dr. Zhen Yan of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, released a review of medical research showing that exercise can prevent or reduce the severity of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). This syndrome is a major cause of death in patients with the COVID-19 virus.

We'll have a look at Dr. Yan's review, and the research results that identify a powerful antioxidant that protects against ARDS. Amazingly, your body can produce more of the antioxidant through regular exercise. We'll cover how much and what kind in today's article.

ARDS And Covid-19

Acute Respiratory Stress Syndrome (ARDS) is a major complication that can develop in COVID-19 patients. It's a type of respiratory failure associated with traumatic injury or infection. It is characterized by rapid onset of fluid-build up and widespread inflammation in the lungs. It causes shortness of breath, rapid breathing, makes the skin turn a blueish color, and is often fatal.1

Forty percent of patients who develop ARDS never recover, and the condition accounts for approximately 75,000 annual deaths in the U.S.1

The CDC estimates that 20 to 42 percent of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 will develop ARDS. Once a patient's case is severe enough to be admitted to the ICU, the rate of ARDS raises to between 67 and 85 percent. Because of the high death rate for people who develop ARDS, preventing it in COVID-19 patients is critical for saving their lives.2


Acute Respiratory Stress Syndrome (ARDS) is a form of often-deadly respiratory failure that results from injury or infection of the lungs. As many as 42% of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 develop ARDS.

Exercise Provides A Solution

The study lead by Dr. Zhen Yan, accepted for publication in the journal Redox Biology, examines extracellular superoxide dismutase (EcSOD), its production in the body, and its health benefits.

EcSOD is a powerful antioxidant with a unique ability to scavenge the free radical superoxide anion. An increase in EcSOD activity in the body prevents oxidative stress and damage. This activity provides a wide variety of health benefits, including protection for bone and the cells involved in the bone-remodeling process.

EcSOD is also critical in protecting against ARDS. In fact, it's the first line of defense against superoxide generation in the lung tissue. Studies have linked low EcSOD levels with a dramatic increase of ARDS and mortality in mice, while high EcSOD levels protected mice from developing the condition.3

Fortunately, we're able to produce extracellular superoxide dismutase in our bodies, and we produce more of it in response to endurance exercise. Every exercise session produces the antioxidant in the skeletal muscle, and it is then transported throughout the body.

When superoxide dismutase disarms the free radicals, it uses certain minerals in the process, including three Foundation Supplements: manganese, zinc, and copper. Another way to support the important protective work of EcSOD is by ensuring you get enough of these three minerals.

Here is what the study has to say about the potential for exercise to lower the risk of ARDS (expressed in the study as ALI/ARDS — ALI stands for acute lung injury) as a result of COVID-19:

“Considering the current outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus infection (COVID-19), which is an infectious disease that leads to progressive ALI/ARDS in many patients, it is conceivable that regular exercise might be effective in preventing while EcSOD gene/protein therapy might be effective in treating ALI/ARDS under the condition of COVID-19 infection.”3

While regular exercise can't create immunity to COVID-19, this study shows that it can help prevent ARDS, a deadly complication of the infection.


A review study of the powerful antioxidant extracellular superoxide dismutase (EcSOD) shows that it offers protection against a number of diseases and conditions caused or worsened by oxidative damage. Among these is ARDS, a condition of respiratory failure that frequently occurs in hospitalized COVID-19 cases. Furthermore, the study shows that endurance exercise increases EcSOD levels, which makes exercise an effective way to lower your risk of ARDS.

What This Means To You

If you're not already following a regular exercise routine, this new finding provides even more motivation to get active.

If you need support to get started or to develop a plan that will work for you, try the Save Institute's personalized online workout platform SaveTrainer. SaveTrainer has weight-bearing high-intensity cardiovascular-enhancing workout classes that meet the criteria put forth by Dr. Yan's study.

Not only is exercise important for your long-term bone health, but it is also essential for keeping yourself safe through the COVID-19 pandemic.





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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. Detrick Snyder

    Thank you for posting this valuable information. The article that this post is about is not a study, however, it is a review – meaning it is an evidence-based expert opinion. It is precisely because there has not been a study to date (to my knowledge) on the topic of covid-19 and exercise that it is absolutely imperative that we pay attention to these expert opinions, but a clickbait title that suggests causality is not an ethical way to steer readers in the right direction. We know exercise can have a number of profound effects that may help prevent covid-19 infection and progression, but they key word here is “may”.

  2. Diane Hoffman

    Since finding out I had osteoporosis 4 years ago I decided to look for help in dealing with things online. Thankfully I came across Saveourbones. You have provided me with so much valuable information on osteoporosis. Thankfully I didnt listen to my doctor in taking the drugs my doctors were insisting I needed. I am so glad that you gave me the information so that I could make tthe right decision.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Diane, I’m so glad that you’re part of the Saver community, and that thanks to the information we provide, you’ve made the right decision about taking osteoporosis drugs. Keep up your positive attitude and stay healthy and fit 🙂

  3. Sarah

    Vivian, this gives me more motivation to do the exercises and keep moving. Thank you!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      I’m glad to know this will help you stay fit and healthy, Sarah!

  4. Claire

    I told this to my mother today. She has asthma and we’re very scared if she would get sick with the coronavirus. Thank you Vivian!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re welcome, Claire!

  5. Marlene Villar

    Hello Vivian,

    Thank you very much for sharing these valuable

    Have a wonderful day.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re very welcome, Marlene 🙂

  6. Matthew Seiler

    It doesnt “show”. Your quote from the study says “conceivable”.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      If you read other studies, you’ll notice that many researchers don’t write their study results in definitive terms. They use words like “might” or “may”, etc. And very often, they also add that more studies are necessary to further confirm the findings. So this is a very common occurrence.

  7. Ernestine

    Vivian, can we produce Sod if we don’t take the three supplements? I have trouble digesting pills. Thank you!

  8. Alyssa

    Dear Vivian,
    This is such incredible information! Now I’m doubly glad that I joined SaveTrainers and that I go for long walks every day. Thank you

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re very welcome, Alyssa!

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