Exercise is Medicine and COVID-19 Resources

December 28, 2020 Joe Brady

While most of us are in vaccine purgatory, waiting for our turn, there are definite steps we all can take to improve our mental and physical health and even improve our body’s ability to utilize the vaccine and enhance its effectiveness. While public health officials have been focused upon the pandemic response from a medical and political point of view there has not been much focus on physical activity and its role in pandemic response. We all know exercise is good for you yet there is little appreciation for its role in fighting viruses and improving the body’s ability to survive the ravaging effects of COVID-19. Extensive scientific research exists on the ability of physical activity to enhance the survivability of a COVID infection by the following mechanisms.

Physical activity can:

  • Improve immune and inflammation responses to viral infections
  • Reduce psychological and physiological stress from the pandemic
  • Help treat most of the pre-existing chronic conditions that predict COVID-19 deaths, and
  • Enhance the effectiveness of an eventual vaccine

Jacqui and I have worked for many years with the American College of Sports Medicine’s Exercise is Medicine project. This Christmas they have published a special edition of articles and resources on using physical activity to get us through to the end of this pandemic. 

As we grapple with the consequences of the pandemic, it is easy to forget an important component of having a strong immune system: exercise! EIM assembled a variety of scientific articles and resources related to the effects of exercise (acute and chronic) on the body’s immune response. You can use these resources to keep your patients or clients active during the pandemic.

Free Zoom Tai Chi Classes

At a loss for how to exercise at home? The Tai Chi Project is offering free Zoom Tai Chi classes on Friday’s at 10:00 am for the duration of the pandemic as a public service. For more information and to register see


Feel free to share these resources with your friends, family, clients, and patients.

We wish all of our readers a healthy and happy holiday season and a joyous 2021!

For More Exercise is Medicine resources and articles

COVID-19 and Exercise Resources

Most Popular Stories This Year

1. Why Keep this COVID-19 Remedy a Secret?

This blog by Jim Sallis, Ph.D., FACSM, and Mike Pratt, M.D., M.P.H., FACSM, calls upon public health leaders to make physical activity education and promotion an urgent priority given the COVID-19 pandemic. Sallis emphasizes the opportunity we have to use physical activity to improve the immune responses of older adults to the vaccine that will be widely delivered.

2. Staying Active During COVID-19

The pandemic presents challenges to maintaining a physically active lifestyle. Yet for all of us, young and old, regular physical activity remains an important strategy for staying healthy! Compared to being sedentary, moderate-intensity physical activity is associated with better immune function. Regular physical activity is also associated with lower levels of anxiety and perceived stress. ACSM Fellow and Past President, Liz Joy, M.D., M.P.H., shares her insights in this blog on how to stay active during this time.

3.EIM Research Learning Collaborative

Over the summer we started an EIM Research Learning Collaborative to bring together those who are interested in advancing the science that supports implementing the EIM initiative. The collaborative focuses on the dissemination, adoption, and adaptation of best practices for integrating physical activity into diverse health systems, creating systemic changes to promote physical activity as an integral part of patient care and population health.

4.ACSM Publishes Call to Action on COVID-19 and Return to Physical Activity

In August, ACSM published a statement highlighting the science around COVID-19, its transmission, and the negative effects of physical inactivity, while also emphasizing the general benefits of exercise. The statement includes actions that can be taken by health care providers and individuals in the safe return to exercise.

5.COVID-19 and Exercise Resources

As we grappled with the consequences of the pandemic, it was easy to forget an important component of health-related to the immune system: exercise! EIM assembled a variety of scientific articles and resources related to the effects of exercise (acute and chronic) on the body’s immune response. You can use these resources to keep your patients or clients active during the pandemic.

6.Continuing Education Opportunity: Nature and Human Health

EIM partner Park Rx America, in collaboration with the USDA Forest Service, produced a continuing education activity on nature and human health. Designed specifically for health care practitioners, this free course summarizes the evidence for nature and human health and demonstrates how to incorporate nature-based interventions into daily practice.

7.ACSM Virtual Experience

In May, ACSM announced the 2020 Annual Meeting and Exercise is Medicine World Congress would be delivered virtually. The ACSM Virtual Experience offered numerous sessions, including two focused on EIM; accepted abstracts and clinical cases presented as e-posters; exclusive sponsor content from the Gatorade Sports Science Institute and Technogym; and access to exhibitors and sponsors. All Virtual Experience content was free and is still available until December 31. Stay tuned for an announcement about the 2021 ACSM Annual Meeting and EIM World Congress!