6 reasons why you should exercise outdoors during a pandemic

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Exercise is vital in boosting your immune system

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has raised a lot of questions regarding how exercise can protect us from infection by boosting immunity. Compounding this problem are the known negative effects of social isolation and confinement on immunity. Glucocorticoids such as cortisol are elevated during periods of isolation and confinement and can inhibit many critical functions of our immune system. When we are stressed, the ability of our T-cells to multiply in response to infectious agents is markedly reduced, as is the ability of certain effector lymphocytes (e.g., NK-cells and CD8+ T-cells) to recognise and kill cells in our body that have become cancerous or have been infected with viruses.

Each bout of exercise, particularly whole-body dynamic cardiorespiratory exercise, instantaneously mobilises literally billions of immune cells, especially those cell types that are capable of carrying out effector functions such as the recognition and killing of virus-infected cells. Exercise also releases various proteins that can help maintain immunity, particularly muscle-derived cytokines such as IL-6, IL-7 and IL-15.

Exercise is especially beneficial for older adults who are more susceptible to infection in general and have also been identified as a particularly vulnerable population during this COVID-19 outbreak.

Your body gets Vitamin D from sunlight

Sunlight has been in the coronavirus news cycle recently for another reason. It’s an excellent natural source of vitamin D, which has many purported health benefits, including an increased resistance to infectious diseases. There are no studies yet to prove its relation to COVID-19, however, ‘it may help to lower the risk of a more severe respiratory infection’, Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Health contributing nutrition editor.

Spread of disease is far less likely outside

‘Outside exercise lowers the chance of spreading the virus by a magnitude of 10 compared with the same level of exertion indoors’, said Dr. Gary Green, medical director of infection control at Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital.

The reason for this may be due to sunlight. Bill Bryan, the acting homeland security undersecretary for science and technology, said: ‘Our most striking observation to date is the powerful effect that solar light appears to have on killing the virus—both surfaces and in the air. We’ve seen a similar effect with both temperature and humidity as well, where increasing the temperature and humidity or both is generally less favourable to the virus.’

Gyms are shut!

No explanation needed. As well as exercising outdoors, feel free to improve your health at the pub….. cheers Boris.

Variety of training

If you’ve been stuck indoors you have likely been doing the same style of training. When you repeat the same style of training consistently your body adapts and you can plateau (stop improving your level of fitness). Getting outdoors means you can play sport, climb, run and do lots of different styles of training that not only have great exercise benefits, but additionally are just good fun!

Socialise safely with friends after class

Doing online classes has been great, but it lacks the community element, which is why a lot of people train at studios. Now that outdoor classes are available you can socially distance hang out after class with a picnic, in a much safer environment then at a pub!

Conclusion….

Exercise is vital to our health. If we are to take group classes exercising outdoors seems to be significantly less risky than exercising indoors. It will also have added benefits that you get from being outside and being social (if you compare to online classes). However, I must stress this is not a free pass to start hosting outdoor hug parties, but done safely this is surely the way forward, especially during summer!

Henry Weston, founder of New Motion

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