A Change of Pace
As our daily routines are impacted by the novel coronavirus, many Washingtonians have had to come up with new ways to spend our free time. For countless individuals, this means getting some fresh air by taking a hike or riding a bike. However, it’s important to make sure you’re adhering to government guidelines during this time of social distancing. That’s why we’ve put together your guide to safe outdoor activities during COVID-19. Read on to learn what we do (and don’t) recommend for the weeks ahead.
Safe Outdoor Activities During COVID-19
Running, Jogging, Cycling – Many people have picked up running, jogging, or cycling during COVID-19. These are great examples of safe outdoor activities that won’t increase spread of the virus. You can run on trails in your local park, or you can simply do laps around the neighborhood. As long as you plan your route to avoid high traffic areas and are mindful about staying six feet away from other people, these activities are a great way to stay fit and safe.
Hiking – Others have turned to hiking to pass the time and get outdoors. While this can be a restorative venture, it’s important to be smart about where and how you hike. Washington is a beautiful state with many trails, large and small; consider finding one close to home that may be less crowded than popular spots in your area. Additionally, you should take care to follow social distancing protocols on the trail. If you arrive and it seems overly crowded, consider coming back at a later time. If the proper precautions are taken, hiking can be an excellent way to pass the day.
Paddling – It’s the perfect time to get out on the water! If you own a canoe or kayak, consider spending some time at your local lake or river. Bring along a family member for company and safety. This can be a great chance to get some exercise and cool off while maintaining a significant distance from others.
Playing – We may not be able to gather with friends and colleagues, but it’s still possible to play outside with those with whom we’re quarantined. If you’re feeling cooped up with roommates or family members, take everyone out into the yard to throw a ball around. Backyard sports can help you to burn off energy and have some fun in the sun with your loved ones.
Relaxing – You don’t have to drive anywhere to experience the great outdoors, and you don’t have to work up a sweat, either. There are plenty of opportunities for quality time outside, right from the comfort of your own home. Many people have enjoyed tending their gardens in the first few months of self-quarantine. If weeding or mowing aren’t your idea of fun in the sun, you can also set up a hammock and spend a few hours reading a book, or sit and meditate on the porch. Whatever your activity level, you’ll feel refreshed by getting out of the house in any capacity.
Activities to Avoid
Unfortunately, some physical activity requires the use of shared equipment or surfaces. For example, in Salt Lake City, local rock climbing associations have told their climbers to avoid the use of outdoor cliffs. The reason? There are too many climbers in the area to maintain a safe distance, and they would all be using overlapping holds or touching the same ropes. For the time being, these activities should be avoided.
Additionally, sports performed in large groups or involving physical contact are also inadvisable. The more often a piece of equipment is touched by others, the more likely it is that this activity could spread COVID-19. This means football, soccer, baseball, and other popular group sports should be tabled until the novel coronavirus has been controlled.
Finally, avoid participating in any daring activities that could lead to serious injury. For example, many Coloradans have responded to the closure of ski resorts by skiing riskier backcountry slopes. This could place a new burden on emergency services and hospitals, especially if some of these skiers are novices without the proper equipment or training. Stick to safe hobbies that won’t put yourself or others in any danger.
Take the Proper Precautions
Before deciding to spend some time in the sunshine, be sure that you check the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission website and confirm that your destination is currently open. As of May 5th, the commission announced that during Phase 1, more than 100 state parks will reopen for day use only; other amenities, like campgrounds, ocean beach parks, and areas along the Columbia River Gorge, will remain closed until further notice. Many of these are included in later phases of the reopening plan.
The commission has also responded to COVID-19 by closing or limiting communal features in each park, such as restrooms, playgrounds, and parking areas, so prepare accordingly. They recommend that those with any symptoms remain at home, especially if you’re experiencing fever, coughing, or shortness of breath.
Once you arrive at your destination, be sure to follow a few guidelines:
- Avoid crowds. If it seems that the park or trail will be too crowded, have a backup plan or decide to come back at another time.
- Practice social distancing. This can easily be done on larger trails; walk on the opposite side of the trail from others, leaving at least six feet between yourself and other hikers. If you’re taking a boat out, be sure to only launch one boat at a time, so that others have enough room to launch safely. You should even leave an empty parking space between your car and the nearest vehicle upon arrival. By taking these small steps, you can protect yourself and others from the spread of COVID-19.
- Wash your hands often. If restroom facilities are unavailable, be sure to pack a good supply of hand sanitizer and use it frequently. You can also pack your own water and soap if needed.
- Listen to rangers. They may provide you with advice about the park or ask you to leave if it is too crowded. Even if you are frustrated, listen to what they tell you and be respectful. They’re just trying to keep everyone safe during these uncertain times.
Stay Safe During COVID-19
At Lakeside-Milam, we understand the stressors that the novel coronavirus has put on those in early recovery. That’s why we’re offering continuous support throughout this time, including free use of our app, recovery resources, and advice about safe outdoor activities during COVID-19. For those in need of mental health services, we have an array of outpatient and telehealth offerings available during this time, including mental health evaluations, individual therapy, relationship counseling, and case management services. Therapies offered include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Rational Emotive Therapy (RET). If you or someone you love are struggling with substance use or mental illness, please contact us today.