We’ve been getting questions from athletes around the world about how to stay active during quarantines and directives for social distancing. While your local health authorities have the final say in what’s permissible in your community, we asked Dr. Megan Roche, a running coach, medical doctor, and epidemiology researcher to provide recommendations based on current guidelines (as of today) on how you can make sure to keep active, fit and healthy during this global emergency.

Should I exercise during the pandemic?
“Exercise can help manage stress, boost the immune system, and improve energy levels,” says Dr. Roche. “However, it’s important to stay in tune with how your body is feeling and keep an eye on exercise load and intensity. Overtraining and/or rapid increases in training volume can burden the immune system. It’s also important to listen to any symptoms that may arise. Typically, I suggest that athletes with mild cold symptoms back off intensity and duration of exercise. In our current situation, in the event of any symptoms, I suggest that athletes be more cautious, rest, and consult with their physician.”

Can I exercise outside and still be socially distant?
“In general the answer is yes - but is highly dependent on where you live. It all comes down to density. If it will be easy for you to avoid other people (a minimum of 6 feet apart) during your run or ride and there aren’t restrictions on your outdoor movements in place or a quarantine, then it’s generally safe to exercise outdoors. For example, if your community backs up to a forest, rural or mountainous area and there’s plenty of room to roam, then exercise as usual and give any passerbys a wide berth,” says Dr. Roche. “This can be a time to get creative with exercise and facilitate a sense of play if forced to work out indoors. Try a new indoor strength routine, go up and down the stairs, or play indoor tag with kids. Viewing movement as exercise can help reframe how we structure our current routines.”

What about skiing, surfing, rock climbing or other seasonal sports?
If you can do it within the parameters of keeping an appropriate distance from other people and minimizing your exposure to the virus, then you could engage, but engage carefully says Dr. Roche. “This is the best time of the year to ski in some parts of the world. But ski lodges, lifts and resort transport can be a breeding ground for virus transmission and we’ve already seen some ski areas proactively shut down operations. And now is the time to try to avoid an injury requiring medical attention or emergency services.”

If I can’t exercise outside, what are my other options?
7 of Strava’s 32 activity types are those you can do indoors and on your own. Now is the time to learn how to body-weight workout, give online Yoga a try, or dust off the trainer, rowing machines or treadmill. Strava recommends several apps that can help you fulfill your indoor exercise needs. For a complete list visit https://www.strava.com/apps/indoor.

Any general advice about exercise and events right now?
“Skip the high fives, don’t sweat on or near other people and be mindful of physical proximity to other exercisers while indoors or outdoors. Even if you are not in an at-risk group or feel healthy, taking precaution is needed--we have a duty to our athletic community and population at large to limit virus spread. Keeping an athletic perspective is helpful, too. Given that races and athletic events are postponed or canceled, this can be an opportunity to build the aerobic system, strengthen weaknesses, and come back stronger.”

What can we do to support each other right now?
“Across the world right now, we are almost all experiencing varying levels of fear, anxiety, and foundational shifts in our daily routines,” says Dr. Roche. “It’s unprecedented. But it’s also a remarkable opportunity to support each other in our shared experiences. Think about it as practicing physical distancing as opposed to social distancing--be extra engaged when you can. Call your running friends, give extra Strava kudos, support local businesses online, or tell someone you care about them. Every little action makes a difference as a collective athletic community.”

The team at Strava is heeding this advice in our personal athletic lives as well as following all recommended health and safety protocols. We are working from home globally, but staying connected through video calls (or virtual camaraderie as we call it) and our activities, where possible. Rest assured that Strava will remain available and will support you during your training and activities. Stay safe and stay healthy, and we’ll see you on the trail (but no high fives, just a wave!).