Outdoor sports in the time of corona
What sports can you easily do outdoors and what should you best give a miss? The most important points to bear in mind regarding the risk of catching the coronavirus.
The most important «social distancing» measures that have been in force in Switzerland for some time have had a great impact and are still perfectly reasonable. And with a little common sense, they can usually be implemented relatively consistently in everyday life.
But what about endurance sports, where explicit recommendations are either lacking or merely implied? It is an undisputed fact that solo sports is healthy, safe and is currently being recommended more than ever before. Because when outdoors in nature, the risk of infection is many times lower than in closed rooms. But what about when you are out and about in pairs or small groups? Here is an assessment of the most important endurance sports situations:
The 2-metre safety distance was defined in the event that two people coming face-to-face in everyday life will not become infected with a droplet infection expelled through the air when they speak or cough. If two standing people turn their backs to each other, the risk of infection is significantly lower, even at a distance of one metre.
There are several different constellations when jogging:
- Jogging side by side: it makes sense to maintain a distance of one and a half metres. And not to constantly turn your head to your jogging partner when speaking.
- Jogging behind each other: this should only be practised for a short time or at a distance of a few metres, to ensure you don’t run through the air or cloud of droplets in front of you.
- Joggers who cross paths: anyone who crosses the path of another jogger and maintains a minimum distance of two metres is on the safe side and can give a friendly smile as usual.
The situation for cycling is not entirely clear. On the one hand, the 2-metre rule is obsolete, because in slipstreaming, you will theoretically find yourself in the droplet cloud of the sweating cyclist in front within a fraction of a second, even at a distance of several metres. On the other hand, the wind and air turbulence also play a risk-reducing role. For safety reasons, it is certainly a good idea to temporarily avoid slipstreaming (even in pairs).
- Cycling side by side: when cycling, your breath is pushed backwards by the wind. Thus if you cycle abreast at a distance of at least one metre, there will be hardly any risk.
- Mountain biking: if possible, a pair should cycle side by side, keep a lateral distance of at least one metre and face forwards when speaking and not to the side.
The coronavirus can sometimes stick to objects for a relatively long time, so it is possible that it can be detected on the bench, rings, or horizontal bar of the Vita Parcours for some time. But even if this could theoretically result in transmission, the risk is extremely minimal. For those who want to play it safe: wear gloves or a sweatband so that you don't have to wipe away the sweat with your hands (or else use your shirt if necessary). And wash your hands at home like you do after shopping.
Safety yes, hysteria no
In principle, the following also applies to sports: those who maintain «social distancing», keep to themselves and avoid crowded groups will minimise the risk. You don’t need to do the following:
- Jog or cycle with a mask
- Turn your face away from a jogger crossing your path a distance away
- Turn your face away from a cyclist crossing your path a distance away, risking a fall
Conclusion: outdoor sports pose little risk if you follow a few rules of conduct. Or as Nicolas Müller, Senior Physician of Infectious Diseases at the University Hospital of Zurich, puts it: «It is extremely difficult to make absolute statements in sports, but with the scenarios and recommendations described above, the likelihood of infection is minimal to none. The risk of infection increases the more people get together, the closer the contact is and the more closed the room is in which the people are.»
So, you are allowed to go out, it's worth it! Keep your distance, do something for your health – and stay healthy!
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