Training for COVID?

Footsteps in sand photo

I have friends who train for 5Ks and Zombie/Mud races and marathons. I’m not one of these people. I prefer long walks, body-weight exercises and swimming. However, an article caught my eye recently and I thought it was important enough to bring it to the attention of my runner friends and non-runner friends alike.

As we come out of lockdown, many of us are faced with a mix of emotions and a lot of confusion about the safety of the world. We are all progressing out at our own pace, some forced to due to work pressures, others taking baby steps. Personally I find myself pulled in opposite directions by, for example, anxiety-inducing reports of increasing hospitalisations in Texas on the one hand and researchers, on the other, who believe the virus is now waning naturally, helped along by the Summer. Whatever our current thoughts on this, it’s important that we don’t go into next Winter feeling helpless.

Dr Ronesh Sinah is an American doctor who has influenced my work on nutrition and fitness for patients with metabolic health challenges such as diabetes and weight problems. His take on COVID is that we should be training for it like we would train for a marathon or similar event:

“…how do you specifically train for the COVID-19? First, we need to understand what type of event we are preparing for. Is this an event based on strength and power, or is it more of an endurance event?

We know major target sites for COVID are the lungs and heart. When you talk to patients that have had a moderate or severe outcome, they report feeling like being dragged underwater or dropped on top of a mountain and asked to run a marathon. There is a distinct sensation of what we call “air hunger,” and this is something we can actually train for without having to live at least 7,000 ft above sea level.

In other words, surviving and even thriving through COVID-19 likely depends on how fast you can walk or run a mile rather than how much you can squat, deadlift, or bench press.”

For my fit, runner friends, this is all I need to say. Why not train for the coming winter like you would a running event?

For the rest of us, it’s more important than ever to get out for those walks if we can and, if we’re healthy enough, to try to walk faster. If you can get to the seaside, walking on the sand or in the surf brings a multi-faceted bonus of fresh air, bare feet, contact with the earth and, dare I hope, sunshine (vitamin D!). And there are plenty of other options that don’t involve straight-out running: high-intensity interval training, cycling or just running around playing rounders, table tennis, frisbee or whatever. Even swimming could be an option again soon.

Dr Sinah reminds us to break up long periods of sitting or avoid them if we can. Yes, I talk about this a lot. But it’s worth re-focusing on if, like me, you forget when engrossed in work or Netflix. And the breathing exercises that my yoga friends practice, in particular breathing through the nose, are something that most of us can attempt. See Dr Sinha’s original article at:

Training for Covid starts now. Let’s get going on this.

Photo by Brian Mann