Association of timing and balance of physical activity and rest/sleep with risk of COVID-19: a UK Biobank study

Alex Rowlands, David Kloecker, Yogini Chudasama, Melanie Davies, Nathan Dawkins, Charlotte Edwardson, Clare Gillies, Kamlesh Khunti, Cameron Razieh, Nazrul Islam, Francesco Zaccardi, Tom Yates

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    25 Citations (Scopus)
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    Behavioral lifestyle factors are associated with cardiometabolic disease and obesity, which are risk factors for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We aimed to investigate whether physical activity, and the timing and balance of physical activity and sleep/rest, were associated with SARS-CoV-2 positivity and COVID-19 severity. Data from 91,248 UK Biobank participants with accelerometer data and complete covariate and linked COVID-19 data to July 19, 2020, were included. The risk of SARS-CoV-2 positivity and COVID-19 severity—in relation to overall physical activity, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), balance between activity and sleep/rest, and variability in timing of sleep/rest—was assessed with adjusted logistic regression. Of 207 individuals with a positive test result, 124 were classified as having a severe infection. Overall physical activity and MVPA were not associated with severe COVID-19, whereas a poor balance between activity and sleep/rest was (odds ratio [OR] per standard deviation: 0.71; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.62 to 0.81]). This finding was related to higher daytime activity being associated with lower risk (OR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.61 to 0.93) but higher movement during sleep/rest being associated with higher risk (OR, 1.26; 95% CI, 1.12 to 1.42) of severe infection. Greater variability in timing of sleep/rest was also associated with increased risk (OR, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.08 to 1.35). Results for testing positive were broadly consistent. In conclusion, these results highlight the importance of not just physical activity, but also quality sleep/rest and regular sleep/rest patterns, on risk of COVID-19. Our findings indicate the risk of COVID-19 was consistently approximately 1.2-fold greater per approximately 40-minute increase in variability in timing of proxy measures of sleep, indicative of irregular sleeping patterns.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)156-164
    JournalMayo Clinical Proceedings
    Issue number1
    Early online date30 Oct 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


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