Holsworth Research Initiative

Our research focusses on exercise, physical activity and rehabilitation.

Research News

Can exercise reduce the risk of blood clots for COVID-19 patients?

Dr Emma Zadow is an Exercise Scientist and Lecturer with the Rural Health School at La Trobe University. Her research interests include improving athletic performance, whilst also investigating haemostatic responses (i.e. blood clots) to exercise, and the prevention of blood clot risk within an athletic population.  Emma is also a very eager netball fan and is working very closely with Tasmanian and Victorian State Netball Teams. Twitter handle: @ekzadow

People with severe cases of COVID-19 in a hospital setting face a ‘perfect storm’ of risk for heart attacks, stroke and death.

  • The inflammatory responses arising from COVID-19 increases the risk of thrombosis, where a clot forms inside a blood vessel and obstructs the blood flow.
  • Low amounts of physical activity are an additional risk factor for thrombosis, and people in quarantine, self-isolation or in hospital typically have very low physical activity levels.

However, Emma and the team hope to prove that by increasing activity levels, people can improve their blood circulation and assist recovery when their immune and clotting systems are compromised. They will assess how physical activity can protect against the risks of blood clots in people with high risk of developing COVID-19.

What level of exercise is best?

The big questions are what level of exercise is the best, and how do we exercise safely during the pandemic? This is particularly important for people who are more vulnerable to COVID-19: older people and people living with hypertension, heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes.

As a first step in this study, the team have conducted a review and identified the evidence suggests that low to moderate intensity exercise can reduce blood clot risk. They will use these findings as a basis for their upcoming study. The complete findings are found at COVID-19, coagulopathy and exercise: Do these interact to influence health outcomes? in Seminars in Thrombosis and Hemostasis

Dr Brett Gordon says:

With high rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease throughout the Greater Bendigo region, it might be even more important to encourage regular low- to moderate-intensity exercise to reduce the severity of complications associated with COVID-19 and the risk of experiencing a blood clot.

 Researching Exercise and COVID-19

  • Dr Emma Zadow from the School of Rural Health is leading a multi-national and multi-institutional team of researchers who are investigating whether low doses of exercise can reduce the consequences and severity of COVID-19.
  • Researchers are drawn from the Holsworth Research Initiative, the La Trobe Rural Health School and the School of Molecular Science, at La Trobe Bendigo, from Murdoch University in Western Australia, Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, the University of Auckland and Middlemore Hospital in New Zealand, and the Université Clermont in France.