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Physical activity, BMI and COVID-19: an observational and Mendelian randomisation study

By Xiaomeng Zhang, Xue Li, Ziwen Sun, Yazhou He, Wei Xu, Harry Campbell, Malcolm G Dunlop, Maria Timofeeva, Evropi Theodoratou

Posted 04 Aug 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.08.01.20166405

Physical activity (PA) is known to be a protective lifestyle factor against several non-communicable diseases while its impact on infectious diseases, including Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is not as clear. We performed univariate and multivariate logistic regression to identify associations between body mass index (BMI) and both objectively and subjectively measured PA collected prospectively and COVID-19 related outcomes (Overall COVID-19, inpatient COVID-19, outpatient COVID-19, and COVID-19 death) in the UK Biobank (UKBB) cohort. Subsequently, we tested causality by using two-sample Mendelian randomisation (MR) analysis. In the multivariable model, the increased acceleration vector magnitude PA (AMPA) was associated with a decreased probability of overall and outpatient COVID-19. No association was found between self-reported moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) or BMI and COVID-19 related outcomes. Although no causal association was found by MR analyses, this may be due to limited power and we conclude policies to encourage and facilitate exercise at a population level during the pandemic should be considered.

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