COVID-19 – Should I Still Be Running?
The coronavirus pandemic is a fluid and rapidly evolving situation. Many of you have asked, “Should I still be running during this crisis?” Am I more likely to catch coronavirus while running? Do I pose a risk to others while running?
I personally am in a high-risk category of 60 years and older. Therefore, I have done a lot of reading to try and better understand how running affects a runner’s safety during this crisis. Following are some thoughts and practical applications from this reading. However, because we are learning new things about the virus and best practices daily, continue to monitor current recommendations from healthcare providers, the CDC, WHO, and other authorities and alter your practices based upon the most current recommendations. We will try to keep this article current, but information may be delayed by days or even weeks. So please follow the most current medical and governmental policies, procedures and best practices.
Disclaimer: The information provided is not all-inclusive and represents my personal thoughts based upon current available information at the time of publication. It does not reflect any organization, club, business or entity I am associated with. I am not a clinician. Please consult with and follow all recommendations and guidelines from your healthcare provider, the CDC, World Health Organization (WHO), and other authorities. Use of any of this information is solely your decision and followed at your own risk.
Studies have shown that a consistent regimen of 30 to 60 minutes of moderate activity can be beneficial to your health and strengthen your immune defenses. However, extensive activity greater than one hour, especially intense activity, can temporarily compromise your immune system. So, my recommendation is to maintain a consistent running regimen but not over-exert yourself. Currently I am running to maintain my fitness base. Your mileage will vary based upon your current fitness level. You should maintain but not increase your current fitness capabilities during this time.
- Running Outside
Provided it meets with local guidelines running outside is preferential to running in a gym. Many authorities have closed health clubs and gyms already because of the risk of coming in close contact with others and spreading COVID-19. Right now, your best locations for running are outside or on a home gym treadmill that is properly disinfected between runs. However, select your course for running carefully. You do not want to run in a heavily populated area with others, or even a narrow trail in the woods where you are likely to come in close proximity with others. Social distancing is critical even while running outside.
- Running Solo vs. Running in a Group
We recommend you run solo. If you do run in a small group be sure to practice proper social distancing of at least 6 feet if running side-by-side. If running in front or back of one another I recommend a distance greater than 6 feet as you will cover the area between runners quicker than if running next to one another with the runner behind increasing their chance of coming in contact with the forward runners respiratory droplets. My recommendation is 15 to 20 feet between runners’ front to back. If you live or run in a city setting it is best to find a secluded park rather than run on streets where you may encounter more pedestrians. Wherever you run, please practice safe distancing between yourself and others.
COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets and can be transmitted through spit. While strongly discouraged, if you do need to spit while running, even if no one is around you, you should move to the edge of the road or trail, stop running, find a location no-one is likely to occupy, and bend low to the ground to spit. Better yet, bring along a tissue or napkin and spit in it- then discard appropriately. This will minimize the likelihood of anyone else coming in close contact with your saliva.
Did you know that running can act as a great stress reliever, and who wouldn’t benefit from some stress relief at this time? Studies have confirmed that running increases the endorphin production in your body. Endorphins are your brains feel good neurotransmitters. This is where the term “runner’s high“ comes from. In addition, while running you tend to focus your body on your running and tune other thoughts out. Finally, running can increase your self-confidence and self-esteem, help you relax, and improve your sleep. All-in-all running provides many mental health benefits and helps us reduce our overall stress levels.
- Running with COVID-19
In the event you feel as if you may have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 (no matter how mild), or are diagnosed with COVID-19, you should immediately cease from all running. Running while sick, especially with a respiratory infection, is detrimental to your health and others in your area. Do not begin again until cleared by a physician. However, if you are in self-quarantine with no signs of illness, moderate exercise, as mentioned above, can improve your immune defenses and help reduce your stress levels.
- General Advice
I know how much running means to you. But today, more than ever, we need to act responsibly to focus on safety, our health, and the health of those around us, and help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Here is a summary of some key tips regarding running and COVID-19.
- Continue to monitor current recommendations from healthcare providers, the CDC, WHO, and other authorities and alter your practices based upon these recommendations.
- Run solo
- Run outdoors- not in the gym
- Avoid spitting. If you must spit, move to the side, stop running, find a location no one is likely to occupy, and bend low. Better yet, bring a tissue or napkin to spit into- then discard properly
- If you have any adverse respiratory symptoms, fever, or you just don’t feel right, don’t run. Contact your healthcare provider immediately
- Maintain safe, social distancing practices (at least 6 ft. while standing, and greater distances while running)
- Keep most workouts easy to moderate in intensity. No overly long or stressful workouts
- Maintain- don’t greatly expand- your current fitness levels
- Do not touch any crosswalk buttons or any other objects not absolutely necessary
- Do not touch your face, eyes, nose, or mouth during your run.
- Disinfect any equipment (home-gym treadmills, water bottles, headphones, etc.) before and after any workout
- Remove and wash all runner clothes immediately after your workout
- Wash your hands before and after any run
- Have fun and let your mind relax as you enjoy nature during your run
For further and more detailed explanations, please refer to the following articles:
Hope to see you on the trails- just not within 6 feet of each other!