So here we are, perfecting our social distancing skills while schools, sports and other forms of social engagement are on indefinite hold, by a dangerous virus named after a (regal) crown.
Because the virus settles primarily with the respiratory tract – the nose, mouth and lungs – it is highly contagious when people sneeze, cough or exchange respiratory droplets with others.
Despite its importance, social distancing has been a social disappointment for many weekend warriors, team sport athletes, fitness fanatics and sports fans who find camaraderie, biochemical joy from dopamine rushes or stress reduction through regular exercise and sport.
Here's how exercise affects the immune system in response to the flu and some practical tips on how much people should (and should not) exercise.
Both too much and too little are bad while somewhere in the middle is just right. Scientists commonly refer to this statistical phenomenon as a "J-shaped" curve. Research has shown exercise can influence the body's immune system.
A large study showed that mild to moderate exercise – performed about three times a week – reduced the risk of dying during the flu outbreak in Hong Kong, in 1998.
The Hong Kong study was performed on 24,656 Chinese adults who died during this outbreak. This study showed that people who did no exercise at all or too much exercise – over five days of exercise per week – were at greatest risk of dying compared with people who exercised moderately.
Here are some guidelines based on just the right amount – for most people.
Do perform mild to moderate exercise (20-45 minutes), up to three times per week.
Strive to maintain (not gain) strength or fitness during the quarantine period.
Do avoid physical contact during exercise, such as playing team sports, that is likely to expose you to mucosal fluids or hand-to-face contact.
Wash and disinfect equipment after use.
If you use a gym, find one that is adequately ventilated and exercise away from others to avoid droplets.
Remain engaged with teammates through social media, rather than social gatherings or contact.
Eat and sleep well to boost your immune system.
Remain optimistic that this too shall pass.