The current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic presents some challenges to maintaining an exercise routine or a physically active lifestyle. COVID-19 is spread by droplet transmission – someone sneezing or coughing into the air or onto a surface, and then the virus enters a new host through the mouth, nose or eyes. The most up-to-date information about COVID-19 can be accessed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
For all of us, young and old, regular physical activity remains an important strategy for staying healthy! Compared to being sedentary, moderate-intensity physical activity is associated with better immune function. Likewise, regular physical activity is associated with lower levels of anxiety and perceived stress (which many of us are feeling in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic).
Here are current answers to frequently asked questions about physical activity and exercise with respect to COVID-19:
- I’m under quarantine but not infected. Should I limit my physical activity?
- There are no recommendations at this time to limit physical activity if you do not have any symptoms. Symptoms that should prompt evaluation by a health care provider include cough, fever, and shortness of breath.
- Will exercise help prevent me from getting the virus?
- Moderate-intensity physical activity is associated with a healthier immune system. However high-intensity high-volume training may suppress immune function especially if you are unaccustomed to it. Balance your workout program.
- Are there precautions I should take?
- The most important strategy to prevent infection is to avoid coming into contact with others who are infected with COVID-19.
- What if my kids are home with me?
- Being active with kids is the most fun of all! Find activities that you can do together – an active gaming video, basketball in the driveway, go for a walk in the neighborhood.
- What if I start to experience symptoms?
- Those experiencing symptoms should follow the CDC recommendations. As these recommendations are changing, below is a link to the CDC Symptoms webpage.
- I’m under quarantine and infected. Should I limit my physical activity?
- People who are known to be infected, but asymptomatic, can continue moderate-intensity physical activity but need to use symptoms as a guide. They should take care to maintain quarantine to prevent virus transmission to others. If they develop fever, cough or shortness of breath, they should discontinue physical activities and reach out to a health care provider.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend 150-300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity and 2 sessions per week of muscle strength training. Fit in 2, 5, 10 or 20 minutes, however and wherever you can. Every active minute counts!