3 coronavirus questions for runners answered

COVID-19 has forced many people to stay home, but what does that mean for runners and joggers?

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, Americans across the country — including the 60 million who love running or jogging — have been told to stay home.

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So does that mean they can’t go outside at all? Or is running an essential activity?

Runner’s World tapped Appalachian State University health professor David Nieman, who is also director of the Human Performance Lab at the North Carolina Research Campus, to answer some frequently asked questions. The publications also talked to Brian Labus, an assistant professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

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Here are the answers to three big concerns:

Can you run outside during shelter-in-place?

Last week California ordered all residents to shelter in place until further notice, asking people to stay home as much as possible. But it said people could still go outside to pick up groceries or medicine, and could still exercise outdoors under certain stipulations, too.

A number of other states, including New York and New Jersey, have since given their inhabitants the same instructions, allowing them to run and work out outside as long as they stay 6 feet apart, don’t gather in groups and avoid leaving home if they feel ill.

So, yes, if you follow the guidelines laid out by your state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can for now safely run outdoors during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Should you avoid touching things like traffic buttons?

While many people are wearing gloves to avoid this issue, the CDC and other top health officials recommend frequent handwashing to stop the spread of the virus. They also suggest you avoid touching your face and cough or sneeze into your elbow if you have to.

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If someone else coughs or sneezes into their hands, however, right before touching a traffic button or another object, the virus could be spread if you touch it immediately after.

Can you still take part in races?

Many races have been canceled in wake of the virus, but you may be seeing group runs or unofficial events pop up. The latest CDC guidance says that in-person activities with 50 people or more should be canceled or pushed back for at least the next eight weeks.

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Since the first reports of COVID-19, the virus has infected more than 64,700 people in the United States, according to the World Health Organization, resulting in about 900 deaths.

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