A top exercise researcher has reported that regular exercise may reduce the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) which is a major cause of death in people with the COVID-19 virus. He is now urging people to exercise regularly as a way of possibly preventing or at least reducing the severity of ARDS.
Zhen Yan, PhD at the University of Virginia School of Medicine has shown that findings from medical research strongly supports the possibility of exercise as a form of treatment for those suffering from ARDS. Between 3% and 17% of all patients with the COVID-19 virus suffer from ARDS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that 20% to 42% of patients who become hospitalized with COVID-19 will develop ARDS. For patients admitted to an ICU the range is estimated at 67% to 85%.
Research that was conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic has suggested that about 45% of patients who develop severe ARDS will die. Right now what we hear is that social distancing or ventilators is all we have to avoid exposure or relying on a ventilator to survive the virus. However, 80% of confirmed COVID 19 patients have only mild symptoms with no need for respiratory support and the question is why.
Research findings in regards to an endogenous antioxidant enzyme may provide important clues. Extracellular Superoxide Dismutase (EcSOD) is a potent antioxidant that hunts down harmful free radicals which helps protect our tissues and prevent disease. Our muscles naturally produce this antioxidant secreting it into circulation to allow binding to other vital organs. Its production is enhanced by cardiovascular exercise.
A decrease in EcSOD is seen in a variety of diseases including ischemic heart disease, kidney failure and acute lung disease. Research conducted on mice suggests that blocking this antioxidant production worsens heart problems, while increasing its production has beneficial effects. A decrease in EcSOD is also associated with chronic conditions like osteoarthritis.
Research has suggested that even a single session of exercise increases the production of EcSOD. With the current COVID-19 pandemic Dr. Yan is urging people to find ways to exercise while still maintaining social distancing. Regular exercise has far more health benefits that we currently know. The protection exercise may provide against ARDS which is a serious condition that can develop in COVID 19 patients, is just one of the many examples.
Dr. Yan’s review has strongly suggested EcSOD has a potential and promising treatment for ARDS and a variety of other health conditions. Gene therapy is another example which may one day be used to increase the production of EcSOD so that its protection presence in lungs is enhanced in patients who are battling the COVID-19 virus.
Research has also shown that rats with chronic kidney disease had less damage to their kidneys when treated with human EcSOD. This antioxidant is being proposed as a potential therapy for diabetic retinopathy which is a complication of diabetes that can lead to blindness.
EcSOD may also prove beneficial for multi-organ dysfunction syndrome where multiple organs begin to fail. Treating the condition with general antioxidants has not been successful, however Dr. Yan suggests that understanding EcSOD’s workings may lead to doctors using it in a more targeted and more effective fashion.
It is often said that exercise is medicine. EcSOD has set a perfect example of the biological process of exercise to potentially advance medicine.
To view the original scientific study click below
Extracellular superoxide dismutase, a molecular transducer of health benefits of exercise.