Just when it looked like we might escape the clutches of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year, the Delta variant made its way around the globe and is now impacting the U.S. rapidly. Unfortunately, studies have shown that this variant is more contagious and could lead to hyperlocal outbreaks. Already, more variants have started to show up, indicating that this virus is evolving at a rapid pace. So let’s take a look at how you can exercise during the pandemic without spreading the new virus varients and the benefit you get.
If you’re regularly focused on your health and fitness, there’s no doubt that the virus and its mutations have thrown a wrench into your exercise routine. For a good portion of 2020, gyms across the country had to close. Now, some might be shutting their doors again or putting practices in place to keep people safer.
What will that look like in the future? To figure out how this and other viruses might impact the world – including places to work out – it’s important to know how and why they’re evolving, and what you can do to keep yourself and your community safe. Is it stressful to think about how quickly these problems can change? Absolutely. But, in learning more about them and knowing what you can do, you can take care of your mental health and physical health all at once.
It might have initially seemed like the COVID-19 virus came out of nowhere. While we know that isn’t true, it has shown us how quickly viruses can spread. Now, thanks to the news surrounding the Delta variant, people are becoming more interested in how viruses evolve and how they can mutate and spread so quickly. According to the “Brief History of Pandemics,” a virus of this magnitude occurs about once each century. Some notable past pandemics include:
But, why do some viruses cause outbreaks and others don’t? There are several factors to consider, including population density and cultural norms. It’s believed that the COVID-19 pandemic began in China, known for its dense population as well as shipping and tourism practices. Technology has also made it easier for individuals to travel all over the world. If one person has a virus, think of how quickly and easily they could spread it to another, and so on.
Some viruses are also better than others at adapting to conditions. That’s when new mutations occur. It’s why there are different strains of the flu nearly every year. According to the WHO, when a virus is circulating in a population as COVID has, it’s easier for mutations to form and new variants to start showing up. Because this particular virus has been so widespread across the globe, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that so many different variants are trying to take hold of the population again.
Educating yourself on virus variants and how to stay safe should be your top priority to return to your standard fitness routine. The best people to listen to are our scientists and epidemiologists. These are the people who provide data backed by research to help healthcare professionals make stronger, more informed decisions about best practices. Epidemiologists collect and analyze data before relaying it to the healthcare industry to make recommendations. Throughout this pandemic, all of the protocols and practices put in place have stemmed from the research done by epidemiologists, including:
If everyone decided to follow these recommendations, things would get back to “normal” faster. Unfortunately, the longer people don’t follow them, the easier it will be for viruses to keep mutating and getting stronger.
What does that mean for the future of gyms, fitness classes, and even playing a game of pickup ball in the park? Unfortunately, things might not go back to the normal you’re used to for quite some time. Some gyms may close down completely. Others might have limited hours due to staffing issues. The class you loved to take every Tuesday morning might not return.
As a result, to stay healthy, you may need to consider other ways of finding exercise during pandemic to get maximum health benefit. But it shouldn’t stop there.
Your primary goal should be to stay as healthy as possible. That includes exercising, of course, and there are plenty of ways to get in a good workout every day, including:
But, staying truly healthy is about more than just regular exercise. With these new variants showing up, the best thing you can do to get benefit from exercise in pandemic is taking the proper precautions to stay safe and focus on your overall health – not just fitness. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, fueling yourself properly, and practicing proper hygiene. These things can help to boost your immune system, which will make it easier to fight off more contagious variants and any other virus that tries to take you down. Remember, this could all happen again at any time. While that isn’t necessarily fun to think about, it’s better to be prepared than to get caught by surprise.
In addition to protecting yourself, get involved in your community and make sure others are doing the same. The more educated people are about variants and what they can do, the more likely it is those people will take steps to protect themselves and others.
One of the major problems with COVID-19 is trust. People are apprehensive about almost everything, from the virus itself to the vaccine rollout. When you educate yourself, you can be a shining light for others and educate them the same way. When more people see the truth about the virus and vaccines, they’re more likely to take the steps they need for their own health.
Will we ever return to normal? Maybe not. But, that doesn’t mean the “new” normal can’t be just as great. We simply have to get there first, and that requires getting a handle on the virus variants of today and the future. Most of all think about the benefits of exercise in this pandemic era.
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