Report: Americans Who Exercise See 8% Reduction in the Impact of Chronic Conditions Linked to Serious COVID-19 Complications

Sept. 4, 2020

BATON ROUGE, La. – Findings from a study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) 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 CDC that can lead to more serious outcomes from COVID-19.

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 Louisianians.”

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 our state 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. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana members have access to a wide range of programs and services to help our members get these conditions under control.

  • Stronger Than is our care management program for members at no extra cost. Those members who qualify are matched with a health coach who will support them with exercise and other resources.
  • Blue Cross also connects members with a wide range of low- or no-cost programs in the community. They just enter their ZIP code to find help for things like meal delivery, transportation, low-cost medications, counseling services, health education and more. 
  • The company’s massive, searchable Wellness Library offers articles and videos about exercise, including exercising at home and how to design an exercise program.
  • In addition, Blue Cross’ YouTube channel offers videos about exercising at home and other health and wellness info.
  • Blue365 Deals is a free program for Blue Cross members that offers significant discounts on health and wellness products from companies like Reebok, NutriSystem, Fitbit, Garmin and eMindful. 
  • Members can also join the Fitness Your Way program by Tivity Health that gives them access to more than 9,000 gyms in Louisiana and nationwide. For only $29 per month, with no registration fee, Fitness Your Way members can visit any participating gym or fitness center no matter where they travel. 

“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. “Fitness Your Way allows our members to keep up the consistent exercise routine this new HoA Report encourages. You sign up, and you can visit a fitness center you like, whether you’re vacationing in Florida or on a business trip to Houston.”

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 to 2017. This is the 30th study of BCBSA’s The Health of America Report® series. For more information, visit

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We were recognized in 2019 and 2020 as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at or talk to us on social media.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans.

You can visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube page to see short videos with the clinical team and others discussing various health topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added. You can also connect with Blue Cross on social media for regular updates.