This article is part of the ZEIT-ONLINE focus "Running - now more than ever" from the departments of sport and knowledge. You can find a selection of other focal points here.
Jogging is one of the best sports to stay fit, especially in times of initial restrictions. Unlike the currently popular living room workouts, at least you get some fresh air when you run. Sports physician Petra Platen from the Ruhr University Bochum says: "I would currently recommend going jogging."
The reasons for this were true even before Corona. Regular running is good for your health. It strengthens the heart, relieves stress, and it can improve the function of the immune system ( Frontiers in Immunology : Campbell & Turner, 2018). And even if many details are still unclear: A strong body defense should at least not be a disadvantage in the fight against the new corona virus. So jogging is a good idea right now. But what about the virus?
First of all: it is very unlikely to become infected while running. At the weekend, the WHO made it clear that the virus will most likely not be able to float through the air for long, far from the usual droplet infection. Larger droplets occur when coughing, sneezing or when speaking. They can contain viruses, but usually fall to the ground quite quickly.
So there is no reason not to go jogging for fear of infection. Nevertheless, there are a few things to keep in mind when running:
You should keep a minimum distance from everyone you meet - even when running. Because if someone coming towards you coughs violently to the side and you just walk past and breathe in at that moment, then it is at least not out of the question to get infected outside. The WHO therefore speaks of at least one meter distance in everyday life, the Federal Center for Health Education of 1.5 meters, Petra Platen and other sports scientists recommend two meters when running for safety. "You sweat, you breathe harder, maybe you cough," says Platen. Keeping a distance sounds like a bulrush in these times, but it's not that easy. In small parks it can get tight between runners and walkers. "Under no circumstances should you run for people in slalom," says Platen.
Try new routes
It gets crowded especially on the popular running routes in big cities, for example in parks. So you'd better try new routes. The Strava app, for example, has released a new feature that recommends alternative routes for runners. Often, just a look at the city map helps. Because fewer pedestrians and cars are on the road these days, even routes on footpaths or on usually busy streets are attractive for runners and are often emptier than the usual round in the park.
It's best to jog alone. This way you can keep your distance better and do not block the way. Other runners also have an easier time passing them. If you are running in pairs, it is best to do so in succession on heavily frequented routes. If you run in pairs with a person who does not live in the same household, you naturally increase your risk of infection. Likewise that of the running partner. It is therefore essential to keep a distance from each other in this case too. Group runs with more than one person who do not belong to your own household are currently prohibited.
Not against the current
In many particularly crowded parks, most of them always run specific laps. Make yourself clear in which direction the majority of the runners are heading - and run in the same direction. In this way you will meet fewer athletes whom you have to avoid.
Run with foresight at narrow points. Similar to other road traffic, it can make sense to wait in front of particularly narrow passages before the person opposite has passed. Just be nice, it's contagious, in a positive way. Also be considerate when walking paths cross. Better wait a moment.
Run in off-peak times
Look for times when there is less going on. Immediately after sunrise (currently around 6:45 a.m.) the running routes are not yet too full. Since many people are currently working from their home office, it is difficult to formulate a rule of thumb. Many parks are currently significantly fuller than normal at noon and in the afternoon. However, you should avoid the early evening until sunset.