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Exercise seems to reduce impact on health conditions

BATON ROUGE — Findings from a study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association show that regular exercise, whether done in a gym or at home, is key in slowing the growth of serious chronic health conditions like diabetes — a high-risk condition identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that can lead to more serious outcomes from COVID-19, a Blue Cross news release states.
The study showed commercially-insured Blue Cross plan members who consistently exercised saw an 8% reduction in the impact of health conditions that could lower their overall health. Regular exercise also reduced the prevalence of chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes, underscoring the importance of continued exercise.
The findings came from a 2020 BCBSA report, The Benefits of Regular Exercise, part of BCBSA’s The Health of America Report® series.
“Regular exercise continues to play an important role in overall health and can prove helpful when managing some of the chronic conditions that are so common in Louisiana,” said Dr. Deirdre Barfield, lead medical director at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana. “With our state still in Phase 2 of working toward fewer restrictions, Blue Cross is working to encourage at-home regular exercise activities needed to maintain and improve the mental and physical health of our members — and of all Louisianans.”
Barfield added that outdoor exercise can be beneficial, as long as people follow safety guidelines such as social distancing. “Consistent exercise is really what this study found most important,” she said. “Regular, ongoing exercise increases people’s overall health, reduces their healthcare costs and improves behavioral health issues like depression.”
Many people in Louisiana are battling obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and similar chronic conditions. In turn, those conditions put them at higher risk to contract COVID-19 and make it harder to fight the virus. These chronic conditions are also risk factors for colorectal cancer and breast cancer, among others.
“We know that once we are able to beat back COVID-19 in Louisiana, our members are going to want to return to the gym or fitness center and get back to their previous routines,” said Barfield.
The report is based on data from the BCBS Health Index, a database of medical claims from more than 41 million commercially insured members of BCBS companies, from 2013-17. This is the 30th study of BCBSA’s The Health of America Report® series.
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