ADVICE FROM AN EPIDEMIOLOGY RESEARCHER AND COACH DURING COVID-19
It is an important time to think about how we can creatively support each other as an athletic community and how we can optimize our own physical and mental health. We sat down with running coach, medical doctor, and epidemiology researcher Dr. Megan Roche to learn more about recommendations for training and structuring new routines. We summarized her responses below.
Exercise is OK—even beneficial right now!
It is great to exercise during this time because it is beneficial for your mood and immune system. Just be careful to avoid overtraining as it can be tempting because you may have more time or want to relieve stress. Stress relief options that may be less taxing on the body include online yoga classes or family dance parties. When you are outside, be sure you are practicing physical distancing (a distance of 6 feet or more) when you do run or workout and to pay attention to your local guidelines.
This is a great time to work on all the little things you might neglect at more hectic times in your life. Reframing this time as a chance to focus on strength training, rebuilding your low-level aerobic base, or starting a foam rolling routine can be helpful and beneficial in the long run.
If you can’t get outdoors, be creative! Play tag with your kids, run/walk up and down stairs, do 10 push-ups between conference calls, try an online workout or yoga class, or teach your dog a new trick.
If you’re not a runner, this could be a good time to start.
This can be a time to try something new and move, as long as you are in tune with your body and aware of fatigue levels and overall life stress. Starting out with 20-30 mins can be an introduction without placing a lot of stress on the body. Start with a run/walk routine if you like and know that it will most likely get easier with time. Focusing on hydration, nutrition, and sleep can help support recovery when starting a new routine.
Focus on marginal gains for overall health.
Take care of yourself and consider focusing on recovery tools such as hydration, sleep, meditation, yoga, stretching, and foundational work. Many athletes are finding it challenging to focus on work or other elements of life. Make sure to give yourself grace in this process and understand that we are all in this together and going through similar emotions. It can help to find creative ways to talk to people including activities such as virtual coffee breaks, virtual happy hours, and online board games.
What it means to be a coach and athlete during this epidemic.
What I’ve learned during this time is that everyone is impacted by COVID-19 in the same way. We are all experiencing elements of anxiety and fear while also coping with new shifts in daily structure. As a coach, I am doing my best to be there with unconditional support to help athletes rebuild and refocus. A lot of athletes are struggling with defining their training schedule with races being canceled. Emphasizing this time as a bonus training cycle and a chance to build the fitness foundation can be helpful. For me as an athlete, I am coming back from a high hamstring surgery and am using this time as a bonus period for building strength and focusing on longevity as a runner.
The kids are at home! Now what?
With kids home from school and parents working from home, it can be tough to balance exercise along with work and parenting duties. Incorporating kids into your exercise routines can help establish some balance. Having kids participate in yoga, treadmill hiking, running around the block, or throwing exercise balls can be a way to spend time together while exercising.
Some families have a few generations living under the same roof. In this circumstance, you may have to find creative ways to limit exposure to older relatives or immunocompromised family. (No hugging, sorry!)
What you can do to help your community.
Supporting small businesses is a meaningful way to help the community! This might involve reaching out and letting them know you care, buying gift cards, purchasing from their online store, or getting take-out from your favorite coffee or pizza shop. Try to support the elderly population in any way that you can, including helping with technology and groceries. Overall, simply staying connected and engaged can make a difference.
How you can support people in the medical field.
If you have any personal protective equipment (PPE) including gowns, masks, gloves, or anything that could be used by medical professionals, consider donating given that we are in a PPE shortage.
Make sure you are avoiding personal risks.
Our hospitals and medical industry are overwhelmed right now, so it is important that you avoid personal risk when it comes to adventure and exercise. If you are able to get outdoors, err on the side of caution and be mindful. We want to avoid having to divert any medical services away from the COVID-19 relief.
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