Guest Blogger: Aaron Vaughan, MD
MAHEC Family Medicine Physician, Sports Medicine Director

Excercising In The Age Of Covid 19The exercise world as we know it has changed in the setting of the Coronavirus. The New York Times published an article March 2020 describing a miniboom of running occurring across our country in response to the cancellation of races and events. As events continue to be canceled or modified, as gyms and exercise facilities remain closed or operate in limited capacity, it’s important to keep a few tips in mind.

Exercise is Medicine – Exercise can be as effective as prescription drugs in the management of several chronic diseases. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • Exercise most days of the week (3-5x at a minimum)
  • Maintain intensity for 30-45 minutes
  • Don’t forget to warm up and cool down

Exercise with Intelligence – Doing regular moderate exercise lowers your risk compared to doing nothing. Studies suggest that near-daily moderate exercisers report about half the typical number of upper-respiratory tract infections. There are risks, however, as increasing exercise frequency or intensity incorrectly may increase your risk for infection and you may be more vulnerable than no exercise at all. It appears that prolonged exercise (greater than 90 minutes) depletes the fuel stores that your immune cells rely on, although there may be multiple factors such as stress, sleep, and baseline fitness.

Protect Yourself and Others – Follow the 3 W’s promoted by North Carolina Department of
Health & Human Services:

  • Wear a mask in social situations and when around others who don’t live in your household – Masks are not perfect and all are not created equal but they do decrease risk for virus transmission
  • Wait – Stay 6 feet apart but while exercising consider 10 feet due to increased respiratory rate and enhanced pulmonary capacity
  • Wash your hands frequently

Post-COVID Recommendations – Should you contract the virus, please consult with your physician about a gradual return to exercise. An objective evaluation of performance with an exercise tolerance test is likely the most accurate but simulations of running drills, sports specific activities or jumping drills may be good estimates of ability to return to activity. Anxiety and depression with PTSD-type reactions may occur in over 50% of individuals attempting to return to sport after severe lung injury and there is also emerging data on COVID-related heart strain and inflammation.

Exercise Etiquette – My exercise is equally as important as your exercise; please respect other’s exercise habits. Here are some good rules to follow:

  • Communicate when approaching; pass on the left
  • Don’t post on social media about exercise adventures in groups without appropriate face guards and/or distancing
  • Don’t congregate at meeting spots; keep hiking groups to a minimum
  • Plan before you exercise
  • Smile and wave, but avoid stopping to talk to others on the trail
  • Keep dogs on a leash. Most counties, and all national and state parks, have leash laws. If an unleashed dog jumps on others, you will have to approach them to retrieve your dog, negating social distancing.
  • Do not share gear, food or water and refrain from physical contact.
  • If you are sick STAY HOME

Through this all, stay strong, stay connected, and stay active!

About Glory Hound Events

Glory Hound Events was started in 2006, initially managing the historic Bele Chere 5K. Shortly after that first year the Lake Logan Triathlon was introduced and eventually became a part of the Lake Logan Multisport Festival. Glory Hound Events is now the largest endurance event management company in the Western North Carolina region, producing an average of twelve events annually. In addition to producing its own events and those for a variety of clients, Glory Hound Events offers consulting services for events outside of Western North Carolina looking to take theirs to the next level.