With most stores, restaurants and other non-essential businesses closed due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19, people are taking to the great outdoors for activity and entertainment. Outdoor exercise helps people stay physically active. It also serves as a means to get out of the house and do something different. As a result, parks, trails and neighborhood sidewalks are more crowded than usual. The density of virus particles is lower in outdoor spaces, so outdoor exercise has been deemed a safe practice, but they can still pose a threat if a location is overcrowded.
Before You Go
You should always do your research and plan accordingly before an outing. Places at risk of overcrowding have been closed, so not all parks are open. Be sure to call ahead of time to make sure a place is still open. Think about what the peak times may be and when places might be the most crowded. Those will be times you’ll want to avoid. If possible, visit parks and trails that are near your home to cut down travel time. It’s also smart to bring supplies like water, snacks and wipes. Avoid public restrooms and try not to touch your face.
While You’re Out
Continue to practice social distancing, even when you’re outside. Consider all the times you’ve been somewhere and have smelled cigarette smoke without seeing anyone smoking in your general vicinity. The closer you are to that puff of smoke, the more you will be affected by it. Air particles work the same way. The six feet of distance rule is a great general guideline, but the farther you stay away from people the better. Crowded places like hiking trails lined with trees have little airflow, and a large amount of people breathing heavily from exercise increases the number of particles that are expelled into the air. Inhalation speeds up, too, which means a more rapid intake of air. Wearing a mask while exercising can help block some of the particles, but you should be as cautious with one as you would without. Wearing a mask doesn’t mean it’s okay to be close to people.
Don’t engage in group sports like soccer, basketball or flag football. If you’re running, stay on sidewalks or trails and avoid busy roads. Use your elbow to touch crosswalk buttons and avoid using your hands. If bicycling, always exercise proper bike safety. Remember, in Ohio bicycles are considered vehicles and have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists, including the right to ride in the lane of traffic. It’s actually illegal for bicyclists to ride against traffic or on sidewalks. Adhere to traffic laws, wear a helmet and be alert. Consider AAA.com/Bicycle for breakdown coverage, more information and tools on how to have the best and safest biking experience.
Outdoor activities are and will continue to be a great way for people to get out of the house and stay healthy and happy during these restrictive times. Keep yourself and others safe by exercising smart, safe practices and adhering to proper social distancing guidelines.