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Are outdoor activities safe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic?

Posted May 18, 2020 by Michael Smeltzer, ACSM EP-C

As weeks pass by under Ohio’s stay-at-home order, cabin fever is starting to set in for many of us. With nowhere to go and calendars cleared, families are jumping at the chance to get outdoors. Taking your activity outside is a great way to boost your health and wellbeing however, we must take extra precautions to slow the spread of Covid-19.

With summer around the corner there are many things we all look forward to doing outdoors. From cleaning up and planting our gardens, to outdoor hikes, baseball games, and so much more. For most of us these hobbies are a great way to boost our mental health and keep us physically active. The good news is we can still enjoy much of what we love by practicing good judgment and following proper social distancing guidelines set forth by the CDC and local government authorities.

Here are the top 5 tips to keep you and your family safe while enjoying all the benefits of the great outdoors:

  • Choose solo activities or those with minimal contact. Avoid crowds and keep a distance of at least 6 feet from others to avoid spreading the virus. Maintain minimal contact with those outside of your immediate household.
  • Choose low-risk activities. Now is not a good time for extreme sports. Instead, choose activities that have a low risk of injury. To do our part, we must remain healthy and prevent any unnecessary trips to the emergency room.
  • Stay local for outdoor fun. Current recommendations are to limit your travel as much as possible. Let’s take advantage of all our local parks and trails within the CVNP. Check with your local park systems first before heading out. Parks may be closed if there are large social gatherings.
  • Wash your hands frequently. Make a habit of washing your hands before and after all activities whether indoors or out. Proper handwashing of at least 20 seconds is our number one defense. For added security take hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes and a cloth or dust mask with you.
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, stay home until you’re well and call the Summa Health COVID-19 Hotline at 234.867.6314.

We have identified a variety of different ways to get outside, stay physically active and improve your mental state of mind. Here are our top 4 picks!

Hit the trails

Lace up your shoes and get on the trail. Whether running, biking, or simply taking a scenic stroll through the woods, this activity is safe and provides a wealth of health benefits. Take your camera with you and snap a shot of spring in action. To keep yourself safe at all times, maintain at least 6ft apart from others and avoid crowded trails. Limit unnecessary risks by ensuring you have the proper equipment and safety gear if necessary. Choose trails or routes that are within your current physical ability.
Playing at parks

The park can be a great place to enjoy some green space or an open area for all kinds of recreational activities. Play a game of catch, throw the frisbee, or get lost in nature while performing yoga or meditation. Avoid impact sports such as football or those with direct contact. Other outdoor recreation activities include canoeing, fishing, and hunting. Check with your local government agencies for closures or restrictions on the use of lakes and rivers. It’s important to maintain proper social distancing at all times and avoid using common surfaces such as playgrounds, community bathrooms, picnic tables, etc.

Exercise outdoors

As Ohio begins to show signs of warmer weather, don’t be afraid to take your exercise routine outside. With gyms closed many people are turning to virtual exercise offerings in order to stay fit and healthy. Combine the best of both worlds by taking your virtual exercise class outside! With minimal equipment such as resistance bands, light dumbbells, or even household items, you can get a quality workout anywhere you want.  For a mind and body connection, try an outdoor yoga session or participate in Tai Chi. Check out the Summa Health Wellness Center Facebook page for ideas.


With spring around the corner now is the time to start prepping your garden or flower beds for the 2020 season. Tackle the yard work, the weeding, the planting and all the planning that goes into pulling off a successful summer. Get your immediate household members involved but avoid inviting neighbors or friends. Even while playing in the dirt we must still maintain all proper social distancing guidelines.

Good weather is just around the corner so let’s get outdoors and enjoy it as safely and responsibly as possible.


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