How to exercise outside safely during COVID-19

Typically this time of year, people across the country would be planning barbecues, hitting the trails, enjoying bike rides, and just enjoying the warm weather of summer. But with stay-at-home orders being extended in some states and just beginning to lift in others, it’s hard to know how to enjoy the outdoors properly. 

Luckily, the outdoors is generally considered safe, so long as you’re practicing a few smart rules. Check out the CDC’s guidelines on going outside, and read below as we break down the safety measures around your favorite summer sports. 

Bike riding

Ride alone, or with someone you’re quarantining with. Skip the group rides for now, and if possible, avoid areas and roads you know will be crowded with other pedestrians. Practice the 6-ft rule, and wear a mask if you’re going to be around others, or if you plan on grabbing a coffee or popping into the bike shop. 

Also, this is probably not the time to be trying new MTB downhills or testing tricks on your BMX. Keep it safe to keep yourself out of the hospital. 

Running

Again, run alone if it’s safe, or run with someone you’re quarantining with. If you’re running on city sidewalks, wear a mask. If you find breathing through the mask irritating, think of it like altitude training. If you’re running on trails, still keep your mask handy. Trails are often much narrower than 6 feet, so be courteous to others by wearing your mask and turning your back as you pass. 

Skip the group runs, and if you have access to hand sanitizer, it might be smart to bring it. If you need to touch pedestrian crosswalk buttons, you can use the sanitizer after. If you don’t have access, hit the buttons with your elbow. 

Swimming

The CDC says there is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread to people through the water used in pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds. These waters are frequently treated with chemicals that should kill the virus. That said, make sure that the aquatic center you visit is using best practices. Lockers, pool chairs, door handles, showers, ladders and other surfaces should be frequently cleaned and disinfected. 

If you can’t maintain a 6-foot distance at these centers, it’s probably best to skip them altogether. Same goes for the beach: many of us with access to beaches are excited to feel the sand in our toes, but plan ahead. Will it be busy? Will it be difficult to maintain a distance? If the answer is yes, it’s probably best to skip it.

League sports

The CDC has updated their reports to say the virus “does not spread easily” by touching contaminated objects, but it’s still an important factor to consider. For baseball, how often is the ball changed out? Are bats, helmets, and gloves shared? Can you remember to not high-five after a game-winning play? Same goes for basketball. How often is the bench cleaned? Or the ball? If you haven’t been quarantining with the other players, getting in their face to block a shot is maybe not the best idea. 

Games like soccer, where players rarely touch the ball, are likely safer, but the possibility of spreading the virus is still there. Make sure to wash your hands, wear a mask, and avoid contact.

Camping, fishing, rafting, and the like

While being in the great outdoors is generally safe, health experts are advising to keep travel (even roadtrips) to a minimum. You and your family can be asymptomatic carriers, so by traveling to new destinations, you are putting other communities at risk. 

Assuming the great outdoors are in your backyard, you’re in luck, but all the rules still stand. Keep 6-feet apart, wear a mask when around people outside of your quarantine crew, and wash your hands frequently when touching surfaces.

With all this in mind, the outdoors is still a good place to be, and exercise is important to boost your immune system and keep stress low. So enjoy your time outside, but keep your distance, wear a mask, and wash your hands.