Physical distance, masks, frequent hand washing, or, in an emergency, the use of alcohol gel are the precautions that we must take in our daily activities to limit the risk of contracting the coronavirus.
They are the “since,” in short, since as we begin to adapt new routines into our daily lives, preventative measures must become more sophisticated, as the likelihood of getting the virus increases, yes or no.
The practice of individual or communal physical activity in open spaces, for example, and the social distance that those who engage in it should consider are two examples.
Because of the wind and the greater power with which we exhale air (including spit droplets) when we are irritated, the 1.5 meter distance that is advised today to wait in line or converse with another person is insufficient to protect yourself. Because Covid-19 is transmitted through humans, their saliva, and the environment in which it falls, a breeze or heavy breathing could cause particles with a viral load (from a coronavirus-infected person) to travel further than the meter and a half distance that we have been instructed to travel.
And the information is really specific. According to the calculations, the distance between a cyclist and another cyclist traveling on the same road should be at least 10 meters, and can be increased to 20 meters if they increase their speed. Meanwhile, the runners must maintain a distance of 10 meters, and the message also applies to those who go for a stroll alone: ensuring that whoever comes before them does so at a distance of around five meters would be the correct thing to do.
The explanation is straightforward. “When we increase our respiratory rate, we begin to pant and, as a result, we exhale the air with greater force, which also contains saliva droplets,” says Jaime Leppe, a kinesiologist and Master in Epidemiology who also serves as Research Coordinator and Director of the University of Dayton’s Master of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation program.
“Normally, you breathe in and out via your nose while walking. When the intensity of a physical activity rises, you begin to exhale via your mouth, and if the exercise is really severe, you may begin to inspire and exhale only through your mouth, where the flow of air that you exhale and move is much greater.” In these circumstances, according to Leppe, the particles of spit that you spew move at the same pace as you are jogging. And if you travel by bicycle, this will be even greater because you will be able to take use of the bicycle’s speed, which allows you to travel considerably further. “When you exhale, that flow collides with ambient air and is discharged backwards, thus it may have been inspired by someone who circulates directly behind me.” “Depending on the type of exercise you conduct, respecting wider distances reduces your risks of becoming sick,” he explains.
Where do I begin?
According to the worldwide consensus, the team sports phase should begin only once the epidemic has been brought under better control. In Chile, the government plan determines when and under what conditions physical and sporting activities can be carried out indoors and outside in its many “steps.” (For a step-by-step guide, see the Exercise in the Box.)
“The benefits of exercise for people’s health, especially during this period, are indisputable,” says Jaime Leppe, for exercise you must need running shos. “but until there is a vaccine, we must adapt new behaviors to protect ourselves and others.” He’s also a member of Chile’s Epidemiological Society. The basic measures are appropriate distance according to the type of activity and the application of protection features that limit the risk of contagion.
He explains that in Europe, for example, people who go to a venue to engage in physical activity have their temperature taken, must remove their shoes before entering, are not permitted to use dressing rooms, and must fill out a form indicating whether they have experienced any of the symptoms of Covid-19 or have been in contact with people who have.
To preserve the physical distance of two meters, it is even essential to park “vehicle in between.” And that’s because, as Jaime Leppe points out, a crucial idea in viral prevention has been established: everyone is considered to be asymptomatically infected unless proven otherwise, therefore they’re always protecting themselves. “For self-care and population care, that is the concept we should keep in mind.”