Running and Walking While Social Distancing: Mental and Physical Health Benefits

As many of you know, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the 500 Festival has suspended all in-person events through May 9, 2020. In accordance with the CDC’s recommendation to provide alternative options for all large events for the next 8 weeks, the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and the Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K will now be taking place as virtual races.

In a time where social distancing has become the new normal, many of us have had to make extreme lifestyle changes. We are grateful for your understanding and for all participants who are taking part in the 500 Festival virtual races. Though this time is uncertain and unprecedented, staying focused and committed to your training can benefit both your mental and physical health. Social distancing can make your training look a little bit different, however, it is important to maintain healthy habits and stay committed to daily exercise such as running and walking.

Woman Lacing Up Her Gray and Pink Nike Low-top Athletic Shoe

Mental and physical health benefits to running and walking:

  1. Routine exercise leads to overall health, which in turn leads to maintaining a healthy immune system.
  2. Running and walking can boost mood by releasing endorphins, a chemical in the body that produces a euphoric feeling or “runner’s high.”
  3. Running and walking can also reduce stress and anxiety through the secretion of endorphins.
  4. Aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem.
  5. Exercising outdoors clears your mind and keeps you active.
  6. Running and walking outdoors with exposure to the sun can also boost your Vitamin D levels, which is essential to the immune system to combat viruses. Though Vitamin D won’t prevent contracting a virus, it can help reduce the severity and benefit recovery.
  7. Running and walking benefit cardiovascular health and maintain weight control.
Person Jogging

Tips for training while social distancing:

  1. Bring tiny movements into everyday habits: do squats during TV commercials, do lunges while doing laundry, walk up and down the stairs, etc.
  2. Stretch your muscles a couple times a week. This is essential to maintain flexibility.
  3. When running and walking outdoors, still follow social distancing guidelines: give other runners their space, maintain a 6-foot distance, and avoid physical contact.
  4. Avoid extreme workouts as they may deplete your immune system.
  5. Stick to a routine.

As we work through this new normal, know that we are all in this together and we are cheering you on. Keep putting in the work and the miles, you deserve it!

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