Exercise boosts your mood, health, and even leadership ability. That doesn't change just because a virus is rampaging around the world. But nearly about everything else does. Your gym is off limits, your local park a social distancing minefield, your schedule in disarray, and your health a concern.
So what's a realistic goal for business owners who want to keep up some level of fitness during the current crisis but, like the whole rest of the world, are dealing with serious constraints? A fascinating, data driven post from a couple of exercise scientists on The Conversation recently offered simple advice: aim for a Goldilocks point when it comes to exercising in a pandemic.
The Goldilocks point of pandemic exercise
It probably won't surprise you that moderation is best. It's best when it comes to nearly everything in life. But the piece from sports science professors Tamara Hew-Butler and Mariane Fahlman offers a lot more data and details on exactly how much exercise is ideal.
There has actually been research done on the impact of exercise on immune response during pandemics, they reveal. Admittedly these studies were limited and can't be conclusive, but they all point in the same direction.
"A large study showed that mild to moderate exercise - performed about three times a week - reduced the risk of dying during the Hong Kong flu outbreak in 1998," they write. "Additionally, studies performed on mice demonstrated that regular exercise performed two to three months prior to an infection reduced illness severity and viral load."
Bottom line: moderate exercise seems to decrease your chances of getting sick (in addition to all its other benefits). Meanwhile, both little to no exercise and very strenuous workouts seem to make the body more vulnerable to infection, according to studies.
The pair go on to delve into special cases like, what you should do if you're just starting an exercise routine for the first time or are a fitness fanatics who is used to very vigorous exercise. If you're a slightly more complicated case like this, the complete piece is worth a read in full, but here is the experts' basic advice boiled down to a few bullet points (in their own words):
Do perform mild to moderate exercise (20-45 minutes), up to three times per week.
Do not exercise past exhaustion, which increases the risk of infection. [Someone tell that guy who ran a marathon on his balcony.]
Strive to maintain (not gain) strength or fitness during the quarantine period.
Do avoid physical contact during exercise, such as playing team sports.
Wash and disinfect equipment after use.
Do not exercise if you have any flu-like symptoms.
Do not exercise more than five days a week.