For many, everyday freedom of movement has been limited in recent weeks to shopping for essentials but as the warmer weather arrives, spending time outdoors gardening, cycling, dog walking or jogging can provide a welcome escape from long hours inside the home. But it’s important to remember to keep a good distance from others while exercising when droplets from coughs or sneezes could potentially travel through the air and infect a person with COVID-19.
It is recommended that people keep at least 1.83 meters, or 6 feet, from one another but runners and cyclists may want to extend that to 5 meters, or 16.40 feet, if they are up or downwind from others. And while staying active with at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day can help boost the immune system, running, walking or cycling on busy trails is not the best way to achieve this goal.
Recent research suggests that droplets from exhaling, sneezing or coughing can travel farther in a slipstream; wind speed, temperature and humidity also contribute to how long the virus could survive and travel through the air. Running or walking side by side is safer than running behind one other where droplets are more likely to land on the runner in the rear position.
Smaller, less well-known trails may not be as busy as large parks or popular walking trails. Try to pick off-peak times to go for a solo walk or jog. Be sure to keep a safe distance from others at dog parks or in your neighborhood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 25 percent of people infected with the new coronavirus are asymptomatic so it’s important to maintain social distancing even with others who feel well.
Many people are wearing fabric masks when they shop for groceries and other essentials and some may feel more comfortable extending this use to exercising outdoors as well. Municipalities may require residents to wear a facial covering whenever they leave home. Wearing a mask can, however, be uncomfortable for runners and make breathing more difficult. A synthetic buff may be a better choice than a traditional mask while exercising; it can reduce heat and moisture buildup because the bottom is open. And remember, now is not the time to spit or use the farmer’s blow to clear your nasal passages.
Stay updated on the latest COVID-19 information by visiting the World Health Organization website here.