Coronavirus!

This seemingly unknown infection has turned into a pandemic.

When Wuhan, China was suffering from this, we never thought that in a short couple of months this will turn into an earth-shattering terror.

So much so, it has forced entire nations like India, US, Italy to go on complete lockdown.

Despite that, the situation still looks grim and we can only do so much to keep ourselves and our near and dear ones protected.

I’ve tried to cover some basics that may be beneficial for most of us. Also, if you wish to know further, I’ve provided a reference section with important links from the CDC and WHO.

Let’s hope for the best and fight this pandemic together…

Running during Coronavirus

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is Coronavirus Disease 2019 caused by SARS-Cov-2 or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2. It was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China in December 2019. [3]

On March 11, 2020, this Coronavirus disease is declared as a pandemic by WHO. Since the outbreak, the countries which are severely affected are mainland China, Europe, Iran, South Korea, and the United States. [2]

Also, on March 13, 2020, the WHO mentioned that Europe has become the new epicenter of COVID-19. [2]

What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus or CoV is a large family of viruses that is capable of causing respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to severe respiratory infections. Other know outbreaks of CoV are the MERS-CoV or the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and the SARS-CoV or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. [1] The strain of virus that is causing the current pandemic, is SARS-CoV-2 or the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2. [2]

Why is it called ‘novel Coronavirus’?

The current pandemic is being caused by a new strain of Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and was discovered in 2019. This strain of the virus was not identified in humans previously. [1]

This is the reason it is called the novel Coronavirus. Also, as of now, vaccines are not available for this virus.

Is COVID-19 and Coronavirus same?

Although the terms COVID-19 and Coronavirus are now used interchangeably, COVID-19 is the disease caused by the novel Coronavirus.

Also, there are various other strains of Coronavirus that have been known to cause diseases like the common cold. [4]

How Coronavirus spreads?

Coronaviruses are zoonotic. [1] This means, they spread from animals to animals, animals to human beings or human beings to human beings.

In previous occasions of CoV outbreaks, MERS-CoV was transferred from dromedary camels, whereas SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats. [1]

Although the origin of current CoV is not yet identified, however, it is implicated that it is being transmitted from bats and pangolins. Preliminary genetic investigation shows a great deal of similarity between bat SARS-like coronavirus. [5]

Here is how it spreads: [6]

  • The virus is believed to spread from person to person who is in close contact. (less than 6 feet)
  • Through respiratory droplets from an infected person, when they cough or sneeze.
  • Transmitted when infected droplets land on someone’s mouth or nose.
  • Anyone can also get infected if they directly inhale those droplets into their lungs.

Coronavirus Prevention

General Precautions…

Coronavirus precautions

You may be able to protect yourself from this outbreak with some simple precautions: [6]

  • Wash your hands often and at least for 20 secs with soap and water especially if you have been into a public place, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • Keep a hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol with you always. Use them generously on your hands and rub them until they are dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Have a healthy distance (6 feet) from people if COVID-19 is spreading in your area.
  • Take steam inhalation at home after returning from outside or try the Cold-arrest procedure as described in the below video. [However, this is just a precaution and may not save you from getting infected. Please follow WHO’s and CDC’s advice to the ‘T’ along with this one.]

Also, if you think you are infected, this is how you may protect others:

  • Stay at home if you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Or use the inside of your elbow. Dispose off the tissue to a trash bin immediately and sanitize your hand immediately as described above.
  • Wear facemasks if you are sick
  • Disinfect your home with and EPA-registered household disinfectant.

General precautions for COVID-19

I’ve covered the details and guidelines as presented by WHO or other health organizations and doctors.

Now let’s get specific about my runners. They are at a lot of risks as the sport is supposed to be performed outside.

Also, many of us don’t have the luxury of a treadmill or a gym at home.

Is it safe to run outside during the Coronavirus outbreak?

Contrary to popular belief, it is comparatively safer to run outside than inside.

Why?

When there is a group of people inside, someone may cough or sneeze. It may not be directly in front of you.

However, after the incident, they may touch something and transfer the virus to the surface (if they are carrying the germ).

If you unknowingly touch the surface and touch your face, you have a higher probability of getting infected.

Since running is a solo sport, you may go out and enjoy the run.

Here also, to be safe, avoid touching your face. Also, running around 30-60 min a day will keep your immunity in top shape.

However, keep an eye on the development of your surroundings. If there is a mandatory quarantine going on, then please stay at home.

In such cases, you may want to keep your fitness going using bodyweight exercises or running solo on a treadmill.

Also, if you are not feeling well, please get yourself checked and stay at home to take rest.

Coronavirus Symptoms

Will running affect my immune system?

It will depend on the kind of running you are doing.

If you are planning to run a marathon or a half marathon every other day, then it will take a toll on your immune system.

In fact, runners have often complained about being sick with flu or stomach upset, just after running a marathon.

However, if you are doing a little bit of running every day, for say 30 mins, your immune system will be in better shape.

Why?

Because staying home can be daunting. It can affect your physical and mental wellness. Also, your fitness level may go down if you don’t have a space to keep your workouts going.

Getting outside for a while can do wonders for your mood and you will act less crazy with the people you are staying with.

Also, if you are running in the morning, your body will generate vitamin D which will improve your immune system and will keep you in good health.

Should you avoid running in groups?

Running in a small group of healthy runners should not be a problem. However, you all should maintain a healthy distance of around 6 feet.

Also, if a person is feeling sick or has a fever may not go out for a run anyway. So, your exposure to sick people will be minimal.

However, don’t participate in anything that has group participation of more than 50 people. Since March 15, 2020, CDC discourages it for the next 8 weeks to break the Coronavirus chain.

In fact, most of the running events stand canceled as of now.

One precaution you can take while running in a group is to avoid unnecessary hand touching or touching in general.

Also, when you get back, don’t forget to wash your hands as shown below:

Are you contagious if you don’t show symptoms?

There is no direct answer to this as the exact data of how long the virus lives or is transmitted is still unknown.

If you are infected and don’t show symptoms, you may or may not be contagious.

However, you are surely contagious when you start coughing or sneezing.

This is where social distancing will come into play. It is still not completely known how long the virus stays alive on any surface, so hand washing and not touching your face is so important.

This is because people who are not infected may be unknowingly spreading the virus through their touch.

Here is a video of probable timeline for the virus:

Should you avoid touching things (like traffic buttons) when running outside?

It is found that coronavirus cannot live long on objects outside because of sunlight.[7]

In that way touching outside objects may be safe as they may not have the virus.

However, you still have the chance of infection if someone right before you sneezes and touches the button and you touch immediately afterward.

So, if you need to touch the traffic button, then don’t touch your face afterward until you have properly washed your hands.

Do the Coronavirus spread through sweat?

No – Coronavirus doesn’t spread through sweat. [8] It is a zoonotic virus and spreads from person to person or animal to a person who is in close contact. (less than 6 feet)

Also, it is transmitted through respiratory droplets produced through sweat and cough.

Will long runs or HIIT weaken my immune system?

Yes! Just after the long run or HIIT or any other intense workout, your immune system will be weak.

Why?

You have depleted your glycogen store and without glycogen, your immune will not be functioning as normally as it should.

In other words, the first few hours after your workout, you are more susceptible to any kind of infection and that includes Coronavirus.

Are gyms safe to use at this time?

That depends. If you have a home gym and your family members or your roommates are healthy, then it is perfectly safe to use the gym.

However, if you are using a public gym then it may not be safe as there is no control over who is using the gym.

Also, sometimes people may not be even aware that they are contagious and unknowingly they will leave the germs on the equipment or on other surfaces.

If you happen to use that equipment after such a member, you may have a high chance of catching the virus.

So many gyms as a precautionary measure are closing down temporarily to stop the spread.

How can you be safe if you are using a public gym?

First of all, bear in mind that if you are using a public gym you may not be safe at all.

However, follow these precautions which may improve your probability of safety.

Social distancing – Try to maintain as much distance as possible from others in the gym. One of the best ways to do so is to go to the gym in non-peak hours. Also, while talking to others or getting instructions from your instructor, maintain a safe distance of around 6 feet. If providing instruction that way is difficult, request your gym to arrange for some microphones.

Do not touch your face – Under no circumstances touch your face when in the gym. Once you are out, sanitize your hands. Hand sanitizers are very effective in such situations.

Stay at home – More than fitness, your health matters now. So, stay at home until this pandemic has come down. You can always workout at home. There are so many bodyweight workouts that are as effective as working out in the gym.

I signed up for a race and it is not canceled. Should I go?

Guidelines are provided by the CDC about gatherings. If it is less than 50 people, it is ok but you have to maintain a healthy distance from everyone.

However, as of March 15, 20202, CDC [9] has recommended that for the next 8 weeks, all in-person events which have more than 50 people involved should be canceled or postponed.

If the race you are participating in has less than 50 people, it may be OK to go. However, I would suggest that you better skip it.

Why?

If you have to travel to the location, you may not know, when and where you may be exposed to Coronavirus.

As some of the doctors saying, it is better to avoid all the gatherings, both indoors and outdoors until we know better.

That person spits a lot while running. Can he spread the germ?

Yes, he may if he is infected. [10]

Why?

Spit contains saliva, however, it may also contain sputum from lungs and secretion from the posterior nasopharynx.

These components can carry COVID-19 and if you come in contact with any part of this, you may get infected.

How long is COVID-19 stays alive on your clothes?

It is found by a study that, COVID-19 can stay alive from a few hours to a few days on various surfaces.

Although we could not find concrete evidence on fabric, widely accepted timings seem to be around 9 hours.

However, take this with a grain of salt and exercise precautions. What I’m doing is, after coming back from outside, I’m immediately washing the clothes with soap and water.

Not sure if that will help, however, at this point, no harm in trying.

How long are the Coronavirus stays alive on any metal surface?

A study [11] shows, Coronavirus can stay alive on any metal surface for more up to 72 hours.

This is mostly the surfaces, made from steel and plastic.

However, as was mentioned in the above video, the lifespan seems to be lesser in copper.

It could be because of the porous nature of copper.

Can Coronavirus be treated?

Although scientists are working hard, there has not been a confirmed cure for Coronavirus.

There has been news here and there that some cure has been invented. However, there is no conclusive evidence as of now.

One such drug is favipiravir. [12] It is used by the Japanese to treat new strains of influenza.

Some clinical trials in Wuhan and Shenzhen are showing encouraging results.

What is more encouraging is this drug was supplied by the Japanese to Guniea for combating ebola.

Whether it is a complete cure, is yet to be seen.

How can you minimize the possibility of infection while outside?

While outside, follow the instructions provided by CDC and WHO to remain safe.

Here, social distancing is strictly important. You should maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet from others.

Also, do not touch or let others touch you. Instead of a handshake, use namaste. [You will look cool and yet would have appropriately greeted the person. Also, encourage others to do the same.]

Do not touch your face without washing your hands, and that includes your face, your eyes, your nose.

Wash your hands frequently as shown in the above video to keep yourself protected.

Also, if you are in a quarantined zone, please stay inside your home until it is an emergency.

Is it safe to run ParkRun?

The short answer is ‘NO’.

They are relatively bigger events and is a gathering of more than 50 people which is against CDC guidelines.

So, you will have a higher chance of getting infected. Why take that chance?

Also, as of now all ParkRun events stands canceled due to COVID-19. [13]

You may rejoin once the open up later when this craziness has passed.

If there is a lockdown in my town/area, am I allowed to go outside running?

No, you may not be allowed to go outside running.

What I understood and observed in the news that, the cities/towns which have been locked down are literally in lockdown.

People were not allowed to mingle and apart from health authorities and emergency services, no one was allowed to visit.

Also, people were not allowed to come outside of their houses apart from getting groceries and medical supplies. Then also, they had to wear masks.

Anything other than that was strictly prohibited in the locked-down towns.

Should I run outside if I’m quarantined?

If you are quarantined, you should not be running outside.

Also, since you are thinking of running while quarantined, I will assume that you only have minor symptoms like mild fever and cough.

However, this scenario rapidly changes within a period of 14 days which is the incubation period for this virus.

So, taking ample rest will help you to get better soon. Also, if your doctor allows, you may perform mild exercises at home.

But going out for running is out of the question as you not only will put a lot of strain on your body but you will possibly infect others.

This situation needs to be avoided and the virus cycle needs to be broken.

So stay home and get well soon.

Is it safe to trail run and run outside during the outbreak?

Since running is not a group sport, you can run in the trails or go out for a run during this outbreak.

You have to be cautious and wear a mask all the time to avoid accidental touching of your face.

However, on two occasions you are not supposed to go outside at all.

One, if you are quarantined and two if there is a lockdown in your area.

This will help you to be safe and also will stop the community spread.

If you get mild bronchitis symptoms, when is it okay to resume running again?

If you have mild bronchitis symptoms, then it is good to get yourself diagnosed.

Bronchitis symptoms can be for various reasons however the currently prevalent one is COVID-19.

So get yourself checked first to avoid any further adverse effects.

Also, to resume running, consult your physician. If he/she gives you clearance, then you may start to run again.

Running during Coronavirus. Is it safe? What precautions should you take? Should you run at all during this COVID-19 outbreak?

Running during Coronavirus. Is it safe? What precautions should you take? Should you run at all during this COVID-19 outbreak?

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