You can practice social distancing and still exercise outside; it's essential for your mental health

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You can practice social distancing and still exercise outside; it's essential for your mental health

You can keep up good health and responsible hygiene practices while taking care of yourself.

We are living in one of the most stressful times in recent history. With an entire world under quarantine, people are trapped indoors and doing the best they can to stay sane. But stress and depression stay in our bodies and mental health suffers under isolation.

One of the best ways to help take care of yourself is to get outside and run around for a bit.

“It’s absolutely vital," said Dr. Rebecca Hubbard from the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma. "First of all, fresh air is very good for your mental health and well-being. Secondly, exercise, we store stress and concern in our bodies, so it’s very important for our bodies to stay active to kind of release all that stress that is just a daily part of life right now.”

Some helpful tips to help if you get the urge to get out there: 

Do run with at least six feet of distance between you and other runners, and definitely don't run in your typical workout groups unless you already live with them.

“My recommendation is to avoid running with other people right now unless you are living with them or are already in frequent contact with them — solo running or running with one other person is a good way to go,” says Dr. Megan Roche, a decorated trail runner, longtime run coach and current PhD candidate in epidemiology at Stanford. “This is both for limiting your own exposure to COVID-19, but also out of respect for the running community and world at large since you can be asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic for COVID-19, which could cause spread. If you think about the different exposure networks that could form if we all ran interchangeably with a bunch of friends, it has the potential to be a vast point of spread. It’s just not worth it from a public health risk.”

Be sure to wash your hands immediately after you return home and, while it might be tempting to wipe sweat from your brow, don't touch your face while you are out.

Stick to familiar routes, rather than taking the opportunity to go off-trail and potentially getting hurt. If you are injured, you may find yourself getting medical attention from our overworked health care system.

Finally, DO NOT RUN if you are feeling sick or otherwise unwell. It's tempting to push through if you're not feeling your best but it puts other people at risk.

Or, if that doesn't work for you, just do what I do: stay at home and practice Death Metal Yoga.

(This is a thing I actually do)

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