With Coronavirus running amok, there are concerns about whether it is safe to run let alone exercise outside. My personal view is that it’s perfectly safe to run outside during coronavirus season and your health and immune system may even benefit from doing so.
Coronavirus – Is It Safe To Run Outside?
Improved Immune Function
It’s well researched that regular exercise can improve the immune response by increasing T-cells and boosting the function of natural killer cells in the body. Running counts as an exercise and can be performed pretty much anywhere and everywhere as long as you can get outside.
This makes it great for maintaining a regular exercise routine. Even walking can cause a short-lived and enhanced immune response.
And if you’re new to running, there’s no reason why you can’t do a mix of jogging and walking to ease into it and get your body used to running or jogging once again.
The virus tends to spread through close contact so running alone is perfectly safe in that regard. According to the CDC, coronavirus spreads through respiratory droplets which are produced by coughing or sneezing. Not sweat.
If you were worried that the virus could be transmitted by sweating, then based on this information you don’t need to worry.
Run At Low To Moderate Intensity
That being said, whilst running and regular exercise can boost immune function, you should aim to keep your exercise at a low to moderate intensity.
Because high intensity exercise, especially if done chronically or for a prolonged duration may impair immune function. So whilst exercise may be a good thing, there is such thing as too much of a good thing. And during a time where we want our immune systems to be in tip-top shape, it isn’t a good idea to do things that may impair immune function.
If you’re a serious runner packing in the miles, you may be better off for the time being if you reduce your intensity or mileage. During this period, you certainly don’t want to be overtraining.
If you struggle to rest or take a backseat when it comes to running and training, try taking another perspective. You could think of using it as a time for your body to repair and recover a bit more from your recent training so that when you can get back into training, as usual, you can run even faster. And if it helps prevent coronavirus symptoms from hitting you, then that’s a bonus.
Improved Mental Health
There’s a strong connection between exercise and mental health too. Running is a great form of exercise to improve your mental health, especially if you can get out for a run and talk to others. It’s going to be difficult for many working from home for what’s most likely going to be a minimum period of 4 weeks so we need to make sure we look after ourselves, and that includes our mental health.
That said, one concern about running with others is social distancing.
One reason lots of running clubs are stopping face to face interactions and organised training sessions is to limit social contact between people in order to slow down, stop or prevent the spread of coronavirus.
For some it’s easy to run alone, they listen to the sounds of the environment and plod on. Others need music, whilst some just love to have company whether that’s in the form of a running buddy or a group of friends to run with.
My thoughts are that you’re likely to be safe if you run with people in small groups for a couple of reasons:
- People are unlikely to run if they feel unwell.
- If you run regularly and exercise, you probably have a strong immune system.
- People are looking after their general hygiene more than ever (handwashing, tissues etc.)
To stay extra safe whilst running, it may be worth distancing yourselves a bit whilst running and planning to run on routes which don’t go through populated areas such as busy towns or cities (although it’s likely they won’t be as busy given the coronavirus situation).
The only reason perhaps you shouldn’t run outside during the coronavirus outbreak is if your country is in lockdown and you suspect you could be punished or fined for going for a run. In this scenario, your run is likely to end up cut short and things will only get more complicated.
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