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Active, outdoors, and safe: Enjoying exercise while maintaining distance

Mary Beth TeSelle
Special to The Union

Working from home, wearing a mask while grocery shopping, supporting our kids during online learning – by now many of the new realities associated with sheltering in place due to the coronavirus have become a bit more familiar and routine.

Some activities remain in a gray area, however – among them, how and where to enjoy outdoor activity.

On April 15, Nevada County set in place a countywide shelter in place order. This order is conjunction with the statewide order in place since mid-March and is meant to provide more clarity for Nevada County residents.

Through the order, Nevada County states that residents should remain home with their immediate family, except to shop for essential needs or to work.

The order also recognizes that getting outside for both activity and fresh air can be safe and beneficial, stating, “Spending time outside improves mood and wellbeing, and is particularly beneficial to children. You can go for walks, ride your bike, and engage in other similar activities, but should maintain social distance (i.e. be more than six feet away from persons who are not part of your household) when on walks to avoid spread of the virus.”

So how do you safely enjoy time outdoors while following the mandate? First, know that some cities have closed parks and playgrounds and the state has closed some parking lots at state recreation areas. Check ahead of time to make sure that wherever you are heading is open.

The Center of Disease Control offers some additional do’s and don’ts to help you and your family enjoy the outdoors while maintaining social distance.

Do: Visit parks, trails and sidewalks near your home. Travel of any amount is not allowed right now in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

Don’t: Visit crowded paths or parks. If the number of people in a specific area makes it difficult to stay at least six feet away from others, then do not attempt to walk or exercise there.

Do: Stay at least six feet from any outside your immediate family at all times. You may find it easier to use open areas, trails and paths rather than sidewalks.

Don’t: Touch any surfaces at public areas and facilities. This includes water fountains, restrooms, trash cans, signage, etc.

Do: Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after any outdoor exercise or excursion outside your home.

Don’t: Use playgrounds. Playgrounds and play areas within local, state and national parks are to be closed to prevent the virus from spreading on surfaces.

Do: Practice sports individually. Some cities have closed public sports courts, but even when open these courts should only be used by individuals playing alone or by members of the same family.

Don’t: Participate in organized activities or sports. In general, most organized activities and sports such as basketball, baseball, soccer, and football that are held on park fields, open areas, and courts are not recommended. These activities and sports typically require coaches and athletes who are not from the same household or living unit to be in close proximity, which increases their potential for exposure to COVID-19.

Do: Swim in private swimming pools, either alone or with members of your family. There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the water. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection pools should kill COVID-19.

Nevada County’s order also allows for fishing, as long as it is either alone with members of your current household.

Golfing, however, is not permitted within the county.

Regardless of where and how you seek outdoor exercise, experts agree – activity and fresh air is more important now, than ever before. So find something you enjoy doing and a place where you can safely do it, and – as the ad has long told us – just do it!


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