On Tuesday the World Health Organization announced their physical activity guidelines, taking aim at the inactivity caused by the global pandemic. According to WHO, one in five adolescents and one in four adults aren’t getting enough physical activity, which is costing roughly $54 billion in direct health care. They’re recommending up to 300 minutes of activity a week in adults and 60 minutes a day for children and adolescents.
While this shouldn’t be a problem for an avid runner, some research suggests that even among historically active populations, activity levels have dropped since the pandemic began. One study reported that the group that saw the biggest downward swing in activity levels has been the under-40 crowd, with younger people formerly responsible for the most activity of anyone ahead of the pandemic, and the least as lockdown restrictions eased. People aged 24-35 saw the biggest rise and fall between January 22 and June 17, with many users in this age bracket removing exercise from their schedule completely. This can likely be attributed to the high-stress situations that many young families were experiencing in their home life. With young children, jobs and limited access to child care, exercise fell to the wayside.
The WHO recommends between 150 and 300 minutes of activity for adults, which is actually a lot of running when it’s broken down. That would mean going on a 43-minute run every day to hit 300 minutes. However, walking, cycling and strength training all count as well. When considered from this angle, it’s an extremely attainable number.
How to get back into running
Thankfully, no matter what stage of the pandemic your country is in, chances are you can go for a run. If you found yourself taking an unscheduled break from the sport over the past few months, returning should be done gradually. Start with walk-runs and work your way up slowly. The rule of thumb is to add about 10 per cent to your mileage each week.