With stay-at-home orders, businesses closed, and social distancing encouraged, many may be wondering if outdoor exercise is safe (and permitted) in the time of COVID-19.
Unless local guidelines dictate otherwise, fresh air and outdoor exercise are allowed. A walk, run or bike ride can provide a respite and add some sense of normalcy to our lives.
Outside air flow reduces the risk of one person transmitting the virus to another, Albert Ko, a Yale epidemiologist told NPR.
The primary method of transmission is respiratory droplets. While you are better able to avoid that outside than in confined spaces, public health guidelines should be followed.
"If you're going out and you're hiking or biking or running and you're not within, say, six feet or 10 feet of another person, I would consider that a healthy, safe practice,” Ko said.
Daily exercise — especially outside — not only reduces anxiety, but can increase your body’s ability to fight off infections.
"My personal feeling is that if people are practicing sound respiratory hygiene, sound hand hygiene, they're distancing themselves physically from others outside, and you're exercising and walking in the park — I think that's actually a good public health practice,” Ko told NPR.
In addition to social distancing, there are other precautions/advice to consider:
1. Assume that banisters, benches, pull-up bars, the “walk” buttons on stop lights and other outdoor surfaces might be contaminated and avoid touching them, The New York Times advised.
2. Wash your hands before and after heading outside. Sanitize your gear when you return home.
3. If you are out with a friend or family member, do not share gear, food, or water and refrain from physical contact, NOLS, a global wilderness school advised.
4. Try to use this time as solo outdoor time—avoid gathering in groups and going to crowded public outdoor spaces. If you can, try to visit the parks or outdoor areas during off-times, or when most people aren’t also out enjoying them.
5. Since scientists aren’t precisely sure how long the virus may stay active, avoid water fountains along your route
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Thank you Jerry Monkman / ecophotography.com, Lynne Holton, Kindra Clineff, Adrian Scholes and John Raleigh.