Exercise do's and don'ts amid the COVID-19 pandemic

The sun is out and the fresh air is calling your name - and the names of hundreds of your closest neighbors. Suddenly, nearby trails and paths are packed. So are you at risk exercising outside amid the COVID-19 pandemic? What if someone coughs, or sneezes as you’re running by?

“We think it’s less likely because there’s going to be airflow and other things outside, but the virus particles can still stay suspended in the air for a certain period of time, so it depends on how close you are to that person - if you’re side-by-side or face-to-face,” said Dr. Maryam Mahmood, an infectious disease physician at Mayo Clinic.

That’s why experts recommend the six feet rule because that’s how far the droplets that spread the virus can travel. 

“Being aware of your surroundings, when people are coming close,” said Tom Schmidt of the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. “Making sure that you’re defensive in maintaining that distance as best as possible.”

But what if you’re not much or a runner, or biker - maybe you’re looking to hit the tennis court? 

“People may not have a lot of symptoms or people may have minimal symptom,” said Dr. Mahmood. “People may be infectious before they develop symptoms, so if you’re meeting people from multiple different places, self-isolation doesn’t work because you could still transfer the virus amongst each other.”

Dr. Mahmood says if you’re playing with someone you’re self-isolating with, you should be okay. The other alternative: exercise from home. Experts in virtual training say it’s easy and effective. 

“While you’re brushing your teeth, try to do a couple of squats or get up and stretch in between meetings if you’re working from home,” said Jen Zygmund of Wellbeats, virtual fitness training. “There’s a lot of different ways we can incorporate activity into our day.”

So when the fresh air calls your name, get out, breath it in - just do so six feet away from everyone else.