Tags: Coronavirus | Health Topics | Anxiety | Cold/Flu | Depression | walking | running

Outdoor Exercise Boosts Health During the Crisis

a walker strolls through an outdoor path on a fog, misty early morning as the sunrises in the background
(Cody Duty/AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 17 March 2020 03:28 PM

People who routinely go to the gym might be suffering withdrawal symptoms as many workout establishments are closing their doors to contain the spread of the coronavirus. But experts say, if you are in a low-risk group for contracting the disease and are symptom free, walking or running outdoors can boost your immune system and relieve some of the stress we are feeling during the crisis.

As long as you are not ill or under quarantine, a dose of sunshine and fresh air can be beneficial, according to Insider.

"Running outside remains an incredibly good workout option in the midst of the COVID-19 scare," Dr. Jebidiah Ballard, an emergency medicine physician, told the outlet. "I don't need to quote a study to let you know if you have been inside all day, a little time outdoors can improve your mood. Vitamin D also plays a role in immune function, and sunlight is needed for our bodies to convert it into active form."

If you are not a runner, do not underestimate the benefits of brisk walking.

"It's the closest thing we have to a wonder drug," Dr. Thomas Frieden, former director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), told Harvard Health Publishing, adding that walking, with its ease and simplicity, has a myriad of health benefits. In addition to helping with weight control and providing cardiovascular benefits, walking can improve our health in ways that we desperately need right now.

"It boosts your immune system," Frieden says. Harvard Health, pointed out a study of over 1,000 men and women found those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, five days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. Benefits of walking, according to Harvard Health, incude:

  • Easing anxiety and depression. A large Australian study showed moderate-intensity exercise such as walking improved the quality of life for middle-aged women. One in 10 U.S. adults suffers from depression according to the CDC and women are 70% more likely to be depressed at some point in their lives than men.
  • Curbing your cravings for sweets. Studies from the University of Exeter revealed a 15-minute walk can reduce cravings for chocolate and even reduce the amount of chocolate consumed in stressful situations. So, you will not be as likely to raid the stash of goodies stored in the pantry.

Experts say you should try to walk or run in remote areas to avoid contact with other people, but that is not always possible — or safe. They recommend running or walking alone or with one or two friends and keeping a six-foot distance between you and another person, the same guideline for other avenues of social distancing.

While biking is also an excellent outdoor option, many nations, including Italy, have banned the sport because of possible injuries that can burden an already overburdened healthcare system.

Dr. Erich Anderer, a neurosurgeon and a founding member of the North Brooklyn Runners, also told Insider:

"The general principle should be: Outside is better than inside, open is better than closed, fewer is better than more people, and stay away from sick people."

And Ballard adds, if you have never run before, exercise common sense.

"Assess how your workout makes you feel after," he says. "Are you more energized or do you feel wiped out? This is probably not the time to train for a personal best on a 10K."

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People who routinely go to the gym might be suffering withdrawal symptoms as many workout establishments are closing their doors to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
walking, running, exercise, pandemic, gym, symptoms
Tuesday, 17 March 2020 03:28 PM
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