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Why you need to keep exercising to beat Covid

Minute 1: How to treat sore muscles

“Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash.” That phrase was originally directed at Maverick, the greatest naval aviator in motion picture history. (Video clip here.) But that admonishment can also apply to endurance athletes who get a little carried away. Have you ever gone out way too fast on a long training run because you were trying to impress the “real runners” in your group? (Asking for a friend.) Or maybe you got lost on a planned flat 7-mile hike last weekend, turning it into a hilly 11-mile journey? (Raising hand and waving frantically.) The following day, you did not enjoy walking down the stairs because you were probably suffering delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Unfortunately, there’s no quick, surefire cure. But there are some ways to cope with DOMS, like this list of the “Best Home Remedies for Sore Muscles.” The list raises an age-old question: “Is hot or cold better for sore muscles?” The Cleveland Clinic recently weighed in with a timely post called “Here’s How to Choose Between Using Ice or Heat For Pain.” Part of the remedy for DOMS can be found in your kitchen. Check out “The Benefits of Tart Cherry Juice for Endurance Athletes” or WebMD’s advice that “Chocolate Milk Refuels Muscles After Workout.” Another option is to pursue something like this 30-minute power yoga flow. “10 Foam Rolling Moves for Your Entire Body” can also put you on the road to recovery, and if you really want to power up your routine, check out this vibrating foam roller from Hyperice that is receiving rave reviews. #KneadForSpeed

Minute 2: Why you need to keep exercising to beat Covid

Even though we’ve seen good news on vaccines that could end the pandemic, unless you are a healthcare worker or living in a nursing home, you probably have several months to wait until you are asked to roll up your left sleeve. To figure out where you stand on the priority list, you may want to consult this CNN story: “When can I get a coronavirus vaccine?” The long waiting line means we probably have at least another 6 months of virtual races and dozens of solo workouts. That also means we should be aware of 5 Signs You’re In a Fitness Rut. If you need more motivation than Strava bragging rights, the World Health Organization just issued a stern warning about “Why you need to keep exercising through COVID.” According to Ruediger Krech, head of health promotion for the WHO, if we do not remain active, “we run the risk of creating another pandemic of ill-health as a result of sedentary behavior.” The WHO recommends 2.5 hours of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity a week for adults, and at least an hour a day for children and adolescents. Numerous medical organizations and fitness experts, like the University of Michigan, have stressed the “Importance of Physical Activity and Exercise During Covid.” Harvard psychiatry professor Dr. John Ratey just joined us on our Six Minute Mile Podcast to say that endurance workouts not only fight cancer, depression and dementia, but also Covid. His books on the connection between endurance sports and mental health have sold millions of copies. His favorite prescription is the 3-drug cocktail of (1) running (2) outside (3) with friends. It’s one of our favorite episodes yet. Check it out here. #FoodForThought

Minute 3: From arranged marriage to running a half marathon

We’ve shared dozens of stories about athletes using exercise and fitness to deal with anxiety and mental health issues. But few have come as far as UK mom Saima Husain. In a post for Women’s Health, Husain, 40, documents how “Fitness Helped Me Find Myself After I Left My Arranged Marriage.” She’d married her husband at age 19 after only meeting him for 5 minutes before the wedding. After eventually leaving him husband and becoming a single mom, Husain won her battle with depression by joining her local gym. “Exercise and fitness became my safe place — where I could be my own person,” she said. But her remarkable journey didn’t stop there. After improving her fitness, Husain ran a half marathon. Then she got into strength training and became a fitness instructor. Now she works at the gym where it all began. “Every time I stepped away from a bad situation, every time I’ve picked myself up, it’s always been fitness that got me through.” #PhysicalTherapy

Minute 4: Oh no, not the Polar Bear Plunge

Our drawer full of race bibs with finish times scribbled on the back hasn’t been opened in 9 months. We’ve watched in pain as marathon after marathon and race after race has been canceled or postponed this year. But now things are going a bit too far: even the Polar Bear Plunge has been cancelled. For many, the gooseflesh-inducing dive into frigid water has become an annual tradition Thousands of brave, scantily-clad souls take the plunge every year. For some, like Boston’s L Street Brownies, it’s a century-old tradition. The annual events are so popular they spark a yearly debate over what happens to your body when it’s shocked by freezing water. Popular Science even has a warning about how to survive a polar bear plunge. But now the first of likely many such events has been put on a deep freeze with the cancellation of the New Year's Day Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge. While event organizers say they likely could have created proper social distancing, the fear was the post-plunge party, which last year led to hundreds of revelers drinking and partying on the boardwalk. Even the nation’s largest plunge is taking a hit with the Maryland Polar Bear Plunge into Chesapeake Bay going virtual in 2021. #EventShrinkage

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Today, the New York Road Runners announced the cancellation of its second biggest race, the United Airlines NYC Half, originally scheduled for March 2021. The Boston and London marathons have previously announced that the 2021 races will move from April to the fall. With near-term race opportunities shrinking by the day, Canadian Running offers a how-to guide for surviving the rest of the pandemic in “Planning for a Year of Unknowns in 2021.” Its best advice is to sign up for races later in the fall, when some big events should return. The good news is that its other tips — running more local races, sticking to virtual racing, and setting personal goals and challenges — are achievable even before a return of the major marathons in the fall.

  • Like many athletes, fitness coach Max Glover had to take his training outside when gyms were closed due to Covid. Glover’s plan was simple. “I just carried heavy things in a backpack and just kept increasing the weight,” he said. His goal, however, was anything but simple. After intense training, the former Marine carried a full-sized piano up a mountain. Glover toted the 400-pound instrument up the 2-mile ascent in 3:45 to raise money for a local hospital. It wasn’t the first time the 33-year-old extreme adventurer pulled off an amazing feat. In 2019, he ran a marathon while towing a BMW car with a long tether. “I have always been a bit different, I guess,” he said.

  • Connor Petty’s strong legs have led him to dozens of marathons, but it’s his heart that gets him across the finish line. His heart, he says, is his friend Steve-O, who has cerebral palsy. The two Oklahoma men, who met at a special needs camp, have completed dozens of marathons together, with Connor pushing Steve-O in a special chair. Their latest challenge, though, is their most inspiring journey yet as they took their friendship to new heights. The duo climbed the 14,000-feet summit of San Luis Peak in Colorado with Connor carrying 30-40 pounds of gear and Steve-O in his chair. He carried Steve-O the final 1,000 feet on his back, leading to an emotional climax. “I think we both cried,” Steve-O said. Connor refers to himself as the legs of the tandem, while Steve-O, he says, is the heart. “Steve-O gives me courage,” he said.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Working from home can take a toll on your body, especially if you spend the day sitting in a kitchen chair or on a couch with a computer in your lap. If you feel like your body is getting tight or sore, fitness instructor and Sweat app creator Kayla Itsines recommends getting up and moving around. (12.7 million followers on Instagram seem to agree with her.) “Movement is your friend,” she says. Itsines has a quick routine that can help with “6 Stretches To Help Ease Work-From-Home Muscle Tightness.” Her simple stretches don’t require much room and can be done during a short lunch break. Check out her routine in this Instagram video. Rafique Cabral, a personal trainer and co-founder of Trooper Fitness in New York City, has some emphatic advice for runners and all outdoor athletes. If there is one exercise you should do for the rest of your life, he says, it’s the Turkish Get-Up. “Everyone can benefit from this movement,” he says. The complex, full-body move emphasizes balance, coordination, core strength and stability, helping runners maintain balance and momentum, especially on steep or difficult terrain. A good demonstration of the move is in the video below.


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