Knowing how the virus is contracted or its transmissibility will give people the answer

By Nicole Ganglani | Art by Saii Shah | Source photos by Adrien Aletti and Tom Wheatley/Unsplash

With strict social distancing measures implemented across Luzon, stay-at-home orders have prohibited people from engaging in unnecessary activities outside their home like exercising. The main reason for doing so is, aside from preventing the spread of the virus, there’s a notion that those who engage in physical activities like running or cycling may contract or transmit the virus.

However, recent research may prove otherwise. According to Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University, you’re unlikely to get the coronavirus from runners or cyclists because people contract the virus when its particles land in the upper throat, respiratory tract or hands, which people then use to touch their face or other body parts. 

According to Rasmussen and pathologist Jennifer Kasten, sunlight, humidity, wind and other elements may actually lower chances of infection. 

“The risks of virus transmissibility in the air outdoors is likely quite low in those contexts, although this risk hasn’t been definitively measured,” Rasmussen says in an article published on Vox. “Outside, things like sunlight, wind, rain, ambient temperature, and humidity can affect virus infectivity and transmissibility, so while we can’t say there’s zero risk, it’s likely low unless you are engaging in activities as part of a large crowd (such as a protest). Solitary outdoor exercise is likely low-risk,” adds Rasmussen. 

Sunlight, humidity, wind and other elements may actually lower chances of infection

Before contracting the virus, it must first get past all the barriers in the respiratory system including nose hairs and mucus before it infects one’s body cells. The virus isn’t easily transmissible among people exercising outdoors if they’re wearing a mask and are socially distancing because the virus must be at a high enough dose to actually infect people. 

“The good news is that we do know that while the virus can persist in the environment on different surfaces and in different environments, it does lose infectivity over time,” Rasmussen says. “So if you inhale a large number of total [virus particles] but only a small number of them are infectious, you are at much lower risk of actually getting infected.” 

So yes, it’s safe to run, jog, bike or do whatever form of exercise outdoors. But make sure to wear protective gear like a mask and gloves, stay at least six feet away from other people and avoid touching communal surfaces. And of course, always shower after exercising. 

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