As social gatherings continue to be restricted, and the weather gets colder, more and more people are looking towards winter activities they can do safely.
Getting outdoors while practicing social distancing has been something many people have been exploring. The need to get fresh air, leave the home for some reprieve, and getting physical activity are all important for overall health.
In an article by USA Today, health experts are weighing in on which activities may be safer, and ways to reduce risks of COVID-19.
Should We Do Outdoor Winter Activities?
Jan.K. Carney, a professor in Medicine, and Associate Dean for public health and health policy at Robert Larner College of Medicine, stands by that physical activity is important to overall health and well-being. She says, ”It is great for people to stay active outdoors.”
Carney also suggests that some outdoor activities are less risky than indoor ones and that people do need to still take precautions.
In general, wearing a mask, avoiding large crowds, and ensuring that the recommended 6 feet apart rule is being followed, are all recommended.
What Are The Associated Risks?
There are three main things that impact the risks of exposure to the virus:
- The distance between people
- The size of crowds
Carney says when downhill skiing, people are generally more than 6 feet apart, often wear masks and are mostly outdoors.
If you are skiing, it’s best to do so only with members of your household. The risk can increase if you are doing any activity outside of those you live with.
To limit crowds and congestion, many of the North Shore mountains have limited capacities and require online bookings, and even parking reservations to help allow spacing and have made masks in common areas mandatory (even though outside).
Want to reduce your risk even further? Carney suggests trying cross-country skiing, which demands even more social distance.
Alaina Brinley Rajagopal, a Southern California-based emergency medicine physician, virologist and host of the Emergency Docs podcast, says that the major concern in all cases is high-traffic areas. This includes ski lifts, and also gondola rides.
She offers the following tips:
- Where you see line-ups, ensure to stay 6 feet apart
- Since it’s not always possible to sanitize with winter gear on, be sure to not touch your face with your gloves or unwashed hands
- Do not sit on the lift with strangers
- Avoid all après-ski gatherings