Physical activity in a pandemic – how to take care of it?

Casandra Greer
It takes approx. 3 minutes to read this article

Physical activity is crucial for health and well-being. Unfortunately, sanitary restrictions related to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic do not make it any easier. How to provide our body with a proper dose of exercise despite the sanitary regime?

Physical activity and the coronavirus

The closure of gyms and fitness clubs, as well as restrictions on movement associated with the pandemic, significantly impede physical activity. Nevertheless, we should not treat the sanitation regime as an excuse for lack of physical activity. On the contrary, we need it even more than usual during a global epidemic.

Regular use of the benefits of exercise allows us to keep the cardiovascular and respiratory systems in good shape. They are the most vulnerable to complications caused by COVID-19 infection. Additionally, physical activity takes care of the immune system, which is responsible for fighting infections.

Numerous scientific studies show the positive effects of physical activity in alleviating the consequences of coronavirus infection. Robert Sallis’ team analyzed 48,480 adult patients diagnosed with COVID-19, and the findings were published in the peer-reviewed British Journal of Sports Medicine. It noted that people who regularly engaged in sports or other physical activity for at least 11 minutes per week had a significantly lower risk of hospitalization, intensive care unit admission, and death.

Epidemiological health restrictions have had the effect of confining us to our homes and limiting our social lives, which is definitely not conducive to mental health. The situation is aggravated by constant stress, caused by the concern for our health and that of our loved ones. Physical exertion causes the secretion of serotonin, often called the hormone of happiness. Therefore, it is obvious that physical activity has a positive effect on maintaining psycho-emotional balance.

How to exercise during a pandemic?

Taking these factors into account, the World Health Organization recommends regular physical activity during a pandemic. According to WHO guidelines, children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 17 should spend at least an hour a day being active.

Slightly lower is the standard provided for adults from 18 to 65 years of age. For them, 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week is sufficient. Seniors 65 and older should exercise at least 3 times a week for fitness and coordination to prevent dangerous falls. But how can these standards be met, during an epidemic health regime?

Even during the most severe sanitary restrictions, which limit freedom of movement, you can train at home. The lack of professional equipment is not a big obstacle in this case, because many physical exercises we can perform at home. Professional athletic equipment can often be replaced by furniture. With a little ingenuity, a table can be used as a bar for pull-ups, and a properly filled backpack as a substitute for kettlebell weights.

Exercising outdoors

For most pandemics, fairly standard outdoor activity is possible, with common sense of course. So whether you’re an avid cyclist or a Nordic walking enthusiast, keep in mind a few elementary safety rules. These include:

  • wearing a mask or other material that covers your mouth and nose,
  • keeping a safe distance. It is recommended to maintain a distance of one meter when moving in open terrain. This rather excludes team sports (football, volleyball);
  • washing and disinfecting hands after returning home,
  • if you experience symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 such as fever, muscle aches, permanent fatigue or loss of taste, refrain from physical activity and contact the nearest medical facility urgently.

Physical activity is critical to your health and well-being. With proper care, staying active during a prolonged outbreak is possible.

main photo: Bruno Nascimento/

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