The novel Coronavirus has effectively shuttered the world. The normal day-to-day activities of going out and keeping busy have to take a pause in order to stop the deadly virus, according to health officials.
Social distancing has been recommended by the Centers for Disease and Control as a way to combat COVID-19. With no known vaccine to prevent the Coronavirus disease, the CDC recommends avoiding close contact with people who are sick and distancing yourself with other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. That means local businesses around cities and towns have closed up shop, as have restaurants and nightlife in parts of the United States.
With normal life taking a pause, does that mean you should avoid going outside while social distancing during the Coronavirus pandemic? Quite the opposite, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Studies have shown the benefits of what nature can do for people, especially for those who are stressed and battle anxiety or depression. Social isolation is a double-edged sword that can make life seem lonely, but walking outside could help fight that. A study from 2015 found that walking 90 minutes in a natural or urban settling lowered activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is the region that focuses on negative emotions.
“When people are depressed or under high levels of stress, this part of the brain malfunctions, and people experience a continuous loop of negative thoughts,” said Dr. Jason Strauss.
In the wake of social distancing during the Coronavirus outbreak, Harvard suggested looking at social distancing as an outlet for doing things you’ve always wanted to do but never did. While gyms have been ordered to close by Tuesday in New York City, there are ways to still get in exercise whether inside your home or outside.
Take long walks or run outside, but be mindful of your surroundings. Harvard suggests maintaining at least six feet between you and non-family members when outside. You can even do yoga outside or indoors, as well.
With schools being closed, children will need an outlet to get their exercise and energy out. Taking kids on walks every day or letting them play in the backyard is a way to ensure a safe place to get exercise, but keep it within the family: It’s not the time to invite friends and neighbors to play as a group. Harvard also said avoid public playgrounds, which have been found to be dirtier than bathroom toilets.
On the run
If you’re hesitant about going for a walk or running outside, Runner’s World put together a helpful guide on the right and wrong practices of exercising outside during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Experts said it’s safer to be outside than inside due to how the disease is spread, but running should be solo and not in groups. So if you find yourself running around Central Park or Prospect Park where running congestion often happens, it’s important to protect yourself and avoid areas where others will be.
If you’re someone who often spits or shoots snot rockets while running, try not to do that, Amy Treakle, M.D., told Runner’s World.
“COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets when a person coughs or sneezes, and transmission may occur when these droplets enter the mouths, noses, or eyes of people who are nearby. Spit contains saliva but could also contain sputum from the lungs or drainage from the posterior nasopharynx,” Treakle said.