Recreation

Being active good for your body and mind

Ogden column: Get outdoors while we still can

A pair of cyclists approach a runner while riding on the Cedar River Trail in December. Getting outside and getting a li
A pair of cyclists approach a runner while riding on the Cedar River Trail in December. Getting outside and getting a little exercise is good for your body and mind during these stressful times. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

The emails have gone from a steady daily flow to a drip.

Interactions with other humans have been reduced to a wave or a quick conversation — across the fence — with neighbors.

My business-casual wardrobe has migrated to sweatpants and sweatshirts as I begin my second week working from home.

Shaving now is optional.

These are unusual times, for sure. But in my little corner of the world, one thing has remained constant — exercise. Hopefully that doesn’t change and, hopefully, many of you are doing the same. It seems to me, many are. I’ve seen more people out walking — alone or with their dogs — than in past months. That, of course, may be because I’m home more, too.

As the years have ticked away, fitness has become a vital part of my daily routine. I’m guessing many of you are in the same boat. Getting outside and getting fresh air are important to me. Working out indoors is good, but walking, running (or rather jogging) and even biking in warmer weather (yes, I’m a fair-weather biker) have become part of my daily routine.

When possible, a good hike can be refreshing.

The good news in these days of coronavirus, working remotely and social distancing, we can still partake in these outdoor activities. For now.

And, according to many experts, getting outside, getting that fresh air is not only good for us physically, but mentally, too.

An article recently posted on Runner’s World’s website noted “runners — and others who exercise regularly — are generally less likely to get sick with these types of infections than people who aren’t active,” according to David Nieman, a health professor at Appalachian State University.

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“In general, for runners who are going through their normal training — and not overtraining — the training program enhances the ability of the immune system to detect and deal with pathogens,” he said. “Runners are, in fact, less likely to get ill with an upper respiratory tract infection like coronavirus.”

In another article, Running Warehouse noted “running is, in fact, one of the best things you can continue to do for yourself. It provides benefits to both physical and mental health, provides structure and routine to our days, and allows us to set goals that can help us stay motivated.”

That doesn’t mean runners are immune to this virus and don’t have to practice social distancing and other recommendations from the CDC. The “loneliness of the long-distance runner” mantra — first coined in 1959 in a short story by Alan Sillitoe — should be an anthem these days. On my normal Sunday morning tour of northeast Cedar Rapids — alone with my dog — I saw very few cars and fewer people.

“So if you’re going out and you’re hiking or biking or running and you’re not within, say, six feet or 10 feet of another person, I would consider that a healthy, safe practice,” Yale epidemiologist Albert Ko said in an NPR article.

These fitness and health experts know more than me about the benefits — and dangers — of running (or walking) during this unusual time. I do know, however, if I didn’t have this outlet — this 30- to 60-minute window each day — I’d be a little lost.

So take advantage of getting outside, getting your heart rate up and getting a little exercise. This opportunity, too, could go away for a bit. Take advantage while you can.

Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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