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Published: March 20, 2020

resident walking on Kendal campusI was a runner for about 30 years but as I neared my 60th birthday, an active puppy and arthritis aches turned me into a walker. For cardio, I went to the gym.

The other day I laced on my shoes (thankfully my HOKAs are good for running too) dug out my old running jacket and tights and headed outside. Turns out I’m not alone.

“With little else to do — no spinning classes, lap swim hours, boot camps or barre — a lot of people are turning to (or getting back to) running. It’s the perfect sport for a pandemic. All you need is a pair of shoes and a six-foot buffer from the next person,” Talya Minsberg writes in The New York Times.

Depending on where you live, you might have to be creative in scouting out a safe buffer during the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, the North Coast Inland Trail in Lorain County will probably get crowded on pleasant spring days (and good news, spring arrived March 19), but side streets in Oberlin and elsewhere are ideal for coronavirus running with mostly empty sidewalks and streets.

Or get in the car and head to a park. Most city, county and state parks are open. With buildings and events canceled, you’re likely to find spots for semi-solo running.

Of course, you don’t have to run. Most of this applies to walking and biking too.

The Benefits of Exercise

We all know that exercise can help improve our mood and sleep and lessen depression and anxiety, certainly a prescription needed for these challenging times.

Harvard Medical School reminds us that exercise can also:

  • reduce your chances of getting heart disease. For those who already have heart disease, exercise reduces the chances of dying from it.
  • lower your risk of developing hypertension and diabetes.
  • reduce your risk for colon cancer and some other forms of cancer.
  • keep your bones strong and joints healthy.
  • help you maintain a healthy weight.
  • help you maintain your independence well into your later years.

Ways to Stay Fit Indoors

As bad as this pandemic is, imagine if it were unfolding a decade or so ago before internet videos and streaming were widespread.

If you are a member of a gym, yoga studio or the like, you have probably already received links to online classes. There’s lots out there that is free and available to all.

For instance:

  • Peloton is offering new users a 90-day trial of its subscription workout app and it does not require a bike or treadmill. Users can choose from classes such as yoga, meditation, strength training and more;
  • Planet Fitness is hosting a series of free fitness classes dubbed "Home Work-Ins," available on its Facebook page;
  • Many YMCAs are offering free videos on cardio, strength building, classes geared for older adults etc. Here are videos from the Y in Greater Cleveland and Greater Cincinnati;
  • Yoga Journal has complied an extensive list of yoga classes, including ones for stress and anxiety;
  • Don’t forget the importance of stretching, especially given all the time we are sitting in front of computers and TVs. Here is a slideshow from the Mayo Clinic and a 17-minute video from Kendal on Hudson.

A Final Word

When embarking on any new exercise program, check with your doctor first if you have any questions or concerns.

As for me, I was surprised how comfortable I felt running again – guess it’s kind of like riding a bike. I was never a fast runner so nothing has changed there. Who knows if I’ll reach my old 3-mile daily stretch or that runner’s high of years past.

For now, moving my body past blooming daffodils, hearing the sound of chirping birds and waving to neighbors was enough of a high.

Calm, Proactive Preparedness

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Writer Molly KavanaughIn the past, Molly Kavanaugh frequently wrote about Kendal at Oberlin for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where she was a reporter for 16 years. Now we are happy to have her writing for the Kendal at Oberlin Community.