After so many months of sheltering at home, you and your family are probably excited to get outside. And even if you’ve seen the news that being outdoors is safer, maybe you’ve also seen pictures of crowded beaches, parks, and hiking trails, and wonder if it’s really safe to exercise outdoors.
At AltaMed, we know that feeling like you’re trapped inside can place a strain on your mental health. While exercise is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health, we urge you to use extreme caution when you go outdoors. Read on to learn how to minimize the risks while participating in outdoor activities.
Plan Ahead for a Trip to the Park
First, check to make sure your park is open. Then pick a time when it’s likely to be less crowded – this could be early mornings and weekdays. Since we’re getting into the warmer times of the year, avoid afternoons when the sun is at its peak (even in the mornings or when it doesn’t seem sunny, UV rays can still damage your eyes and skin). Make sure you can safely maintain a distance of at least six feet from anyone else who is not in your household, and of course, don’t forget to wear a cloth face covering.
Also, remember to practice coronavirus etiquette! Even as you social distance, remember that other people need their space, too. If possible, avoid taking a large group of people from your household on an outing. And always walk single-file to make sure others can safely pass.
Take a Pass on Playgrounds
Even if you find an empty playground, keep in mind that you don’t know who was there before you, and it may not have been sanitized. Plus, as a parent, you know how difficult it is to keep your child from touching their face. For now, there’s no guarantee that public playgrounds are safe.
Do Your Best to Stay Out of Public Bathrooms
At this point, scientists still aren’t sure if the coronavirus can spread through waste products – and there are plenty of other surfaces for germs to hide on. Your best bet is to avoid public restrooms altogether. However, if that doesn’t sound like a reality, prepare a kit that includes:
- Disposable toilet seat covers
- Toilet paper
- Hand sanitizer
- Disposable plastic gloves
Avoid touching anything in the restroom – this includes doorknobs, sink faucets, or toilet lids. Don’t use air dryers, which can potentially spread small particles throughout the air.
Exercise Caution at Public Pools
Here’s some good news for summer: Covid-19 has not been shown to spread through water, and public pools use chemicals that kill or inactivate the virus. That doesn’t mean you can let your guard down.
If you want to swim at a public pool, such as those run by Los Angeles County or even a pool at an apartment or condominium complex, make sure it is cleaned frequently. Avoid the area entirely if there’s a gathering of ten or more people. To keep your family safe:
- Don’t share equipment, such as swimming masks, snorkels, pool noodles, flippers, kickboards, or even towels.
- Don’t wear a face covering while you’re swimming.
- Avoid public restrooms and communal changing areas.
It’s Too Early for Team Sports
It’s fine to play catch with your family but participating in a game with people outside your household increases everyone’s risk for transmitting the virus.
If you’ve got a young athlete who is afraid all the time off will affect their performance, they can still practice some of their individual skills, such as running, throwing, or dribbling in a physically-distanced and safe environment. Get involved and get creative!
The Lowest-Risk Ways to Stay Active:
Try Exercising at Home
If you have a yard, that’s the perfect place for jumping jacks, skipping rope, jogging in place, or even a brisk game of “tag.” You can also walk laps around your neighborhood (while practicing physical distancing, of course).
Think of YouTube and Apps as Your New Personal Gym
There are thousands of different exercise videos and apps for your phone available, representing every activity you can think of – from yoga and Pilates to weight-lifting, high- intensity interval training, dance, and more.
Start a Do-It-Yourself Weight Training Routine
You should still do at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise most days of the week, but weight-training can help you get even more out of your fitness routine. You’ll increase your lean muscle mass, which can fire up your metabolism and protect your joints and bones. If you lack equipment, you can also use simple household items for your weights:
- A gallon of water or jug of kitty-litter or laundry detergent makes a great kettlebell.
- Instead of dumbbells, lift canned food or bottles of water.
- A dishtowel or a scarf can be used in place of a resistance band.
- A paper plate can be used in place of a glider on carpet and a towel can be used on hard flooring.
Above All, Exercise Caution!
Not sure if you’re healthy enough for vigorous exercise? Call us first. Our facilities are open, and you may be able to see a doctor with a telehealth visit. We want you to get active and have fun, but your family’s health and safety is our top priority.
AltaMed can provide information to you and your family about the best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19. To receive the latest news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, sign up today.