Considerations for Training During COVID-19 Threat

Considerations for Training During COVID-19 Threat


8th April 2020

In keeping with the UK and Scottish government advice on coronavirus (COVID-19), Scottish Cycling fully support taking regular exercise to maintain health and wellbeing which of course includes cycling both outdoors as permitted under the government guidelines, and indoors carried out on a turbo trainer or rollers.

Please refer to the Scottish Cycling release on the 23rd March 2020 for additional information. Also be mindful of the impact your ride could have on the NHS during the pandemic.

With regards to training, we feel it important for our members to take into account the following considerations which come from guidelines issued by the UCI Chief Medical Officer in addition to advice from the sportscotland Institute of Sport medical and exercise physiology teams.  We recognise that many of our members may decide to increase their levels of activity and exercise due to a change to their normal work routines.  This is great, but it can come with its risks during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The effectiveness of your immune system to fight viral infections can be compromised with sudden increases in exercise volume or higher bouts of intense exercise.

- If you are increasing your activity, this should always be progressed at a sensible rate

- It is important to consider the intensity of the exercise you are doing

- Training intensity should be reduced.  It is advisable to remain within the aerobic zone and reduce the length of the rides with overall workload reduction.  This is particularly so for your longer rides.

- The overall reduction should be around 10 – 15% to ensure you maintain fitness but avoid challenging your immune system

- Further explanation of the ‘Aerobic Zone’ can be found in the below info-graphic that provides guidelines for those using power, heartrate or working on ‘feel’.  To help with understanding feel, we have used “Conversational Threshold” (but of course recognising that solo riding will mean no conversation, but it should help!)  Using this guide it should be possible to easily remain in the aerobic zone.   

- Should a rider have the desire to carry out any shorter, interval type efforts, the level of intensity should be reduced by 10 – 15%.

Your immune system is supported not only by managing your levels of intense exercise, but also through good hydration, balanced nutrition, quality sleep (more than 8hrs is advised) and maintaining your mental wellbeing.  Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection can impact the respiratory as well as cardiovascular systems which is why there is particular advice for those diagnosed with Coronavirus (COVID-19), no matter how mild your symptoms.  Current medical advice is not to exercise for at least 10 days from onset of symptoms to allow your body to fully recover.  Please seek advice from your GP or NHS24 (dialling 111) or online at  NHS Inform  if you do have concerns.

The effectiveness of the immune system against viruses is affected by high intensity training sessions and increased training loads.  The considerations above are intended to reduce the risk of this happening as well as protecting the respiratory and cardiovascular systems and therefore aerobic, ‘steady state’ training (steady rides) of a reduced length is recommended.