Walking & Biking to Stay Healthy During the Coronavirus

Walking & Biking to Stay Healthy During the Coronavirus

Never in recent history has a situation as the Coronavirus had a widespread global impact with nearly every country in the world affected. However, the aftermath will likely have even more far-reaching effects…

The toll on mental health may linger for weeks, months, or even longer. That’s what makes physical activity like walking and biking so essential.

Benefits of Exercise

Connecting with nature can have profound effects on your wellbeing. Even spending as little as two hours a week outside can improve your health, both physically and mentally. Part of the reason may rely on the release of endorphins in the brain, the so-called runner’s high.

You can think of endorphins as a natural pain reliever. These chemicals may also reduce anxiety and stress, emotions that you’re probably feeling during the pandemic.

However, you don’t have to run a marathon to experience these benefits. Simply being outdoors while taking a leisurely stroll is enough to lighten your mood. If you’ve been feeling unproductive, a little time outside can help can your mindset. But of course, checking the weather today would be really helpful to plan your day.

The Environment and the Coronavirus

The current virus is part of a group of diseases that includes flu or influenza. The hope has been that Coronavirus would show the same seasonal patterns to give science a chance to catch up with the research.

The preliminary results are compelling.

They provide further evidence that walking, and biking are excellent ways to stay healthy. New data suggest that vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, may play a role. Researchers have found an association between high blood levels of this nutrient and appropriate immune system response. Time outdoors is the best way to get this essential vitamin.

However, you may also reduce your risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular disease from that daily walk or bike ride.

Protecting Yourself When Outdoors

All of this information is good news when it comes to your health and preventing Coronavirus. Nonetheless, it would help if you took other precautions to reduce your risk.

The standard advice is to wash or sanitize your hands frequently. We suggest doing it before and after your time outside. The concern rests with airborne particles that you may pick up accidentally. Transmission can occur when someone sneezes, coughs, or even breathes, especially when through their mouth instead of their nose.

Social, or as we like to call it, physical distancing is also imperative. Maintaining that six-foot space even out on the trail can protect you and others.

Your next questions probably, what about face masks?

Are Face Masks Effective?

Some controversy exists about whether you should don a mask when indoors, outdoors, or at all. It certainly doesn’t help the matter when there are conflicting recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

At the heart of the question is the asymptomatic transmission of Coronavirus.

Hopefully, everyone knows by now that you should stay home if you feel sick. The advice for those working out has been to keep on your exercise schedule if your symptoms are above your neck, i.e., a cold, and skip it if you have a chest cough.

We strongly urge you not to walk or bike outside—or leave your home!— in either case.

Scientific research has led the debate about face masks. Some studies have suggested that wearing one, especially if most of the population follows suit, is an effective way to slow the spread of viruses. Data of this sort has fueled shortages and hoarding, which makes it difficult for everyone to get one.

Hence, the rise of homemade masks.

Unfortunately, the research is mixed here, too. Results show that surgical masks will help reduce transmission. The keyword is surgical. However, homemade ones aren’t as effective, but they are better than nothing.

Bear in mind that if you’re walking or biking outside, you’re likely breathing harder and more rapidly, depending on your intensity. Therefore, the amount of droplets is higher. Going back to the asymptomatic factor, it probably isn’t a bad idea to wear a mask during your workouts.

The Elephant in the Room

Some data support wearing a mask. Notwithstanding, there is another factor to consider—how you wear it.

To most of us, it is a new thing. As such, we might find them uncomfortable or itchy. We may touch our faces more because of it. A mask isn’t a preventive if you sneeze or cough while wearing one, either. Then, if you touch anything…

The Mask Solution

We’ll stick with our initial conclusion about wearing a mask while walking or biking with a few caveats. First, wearing one isn’t going to hurt as long as you:

  • Practice physical distancing
  • Please keep your hands off of it and your face, too
  • Continue to sneeze or cough in your elbow
  • Check with your doctor if you have asthma or other respiratory condition

Perhaps, the best advice we can give you is to use disposable ones that you take of afterward, properly. If you use a cloth mask, whether you bought it or made it, wash it between uses. Remember that the virus will still linger on contaminated materials.

Final Thoughts About Staying Healthy

Some welcome but expected health consequences have come out of the pandemic. Our air is cleaner with fewer cars on the road. We are also seeing people, even entire families, outside walking and biking together. That alone has to be a significant boost for their physical and mental wellbeing.

We hope it lasts after the crisis has passed.

We urge you to continue spending time outside, by all means. Enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, while letting those juicy endorphins do their thing. See you on the trail!

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