Being active is good for you – but here’s how to do it more safely during these unusual times
The weather is great, you’ve likely been in the house more than you’d like in recent months and that makes it the perfect time to get more active again. Even for those who maintained a home workout routine, the lure of summer activities is impossible to resist. It’s also tempting to go back to the gym – but is it safe to do so?
Here are answers to some common questions about staying active, indoors, or out:
Q: My family loves playing sports, but we’re getting a little tired of playing with each other and miss our friends. Are there any sports that are safe to play with others?
A: If you stay outside and maintain proper social distance from anyone who doesn’t live in your household, you can still enjoy some friendly competition while keeping everyone’s risk low. Forget about contact sports like one-on-one basketball, soccer or racquetball, and instead stick to non-contact sports like tennis, golf, or a friendly game of HORSE on the basketball court (use your own ball to reduce risk). You can also enjoy games like horseshoes, archery, or races where you stay 6 feet apart.
Q: Are public swimming pools safe?
A: According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there’s no evidence that viruses can be transmitted through water, and public pools contain germ-busting chemicals and filtration systems. If your local outdoor pool is open, the CDC says it’s safe to go if you follow all posted rules, maintain social distancing and disinfect any surfaces you’ll be touching (like lockers or restroom doors). Wear a mask when entering and exiting, and whenever else you must be in close proximity to people who aren’t part of your household but don’t wear it in the water.
Q: Is it okay to work out at the gym?
A: In gyms that are open you’ll likely see safety measures like reduced capacity or timed entries, extra disinfection stations, and machines spaced farther apart, although not all gyms will be taking extra safety precautions. Since most gyms are indoors, filled with people exerting themselves and breathing heavily, there’s definitely more risk than if you were outside. If you’re desperate to go, follow all posted safety precautions and thoroughly disinfect your equipment before and after you use it. Wear a mask at all times except when you are doing cardio exercise since you want your breathing to be unrestricted. And make sure to wash your hands.
Q: Can I take the kids to the playground?
A: Playgrounds are filled with high-touch surfaces and social distancing is hard to accomplish, so the CDC currently advises against it. Instead, if your local parks are open, opt for activities in the park’s green spaces where you can maintain social distancing, such as tossing a football, enjoying a game of Frisbee, or playing catch with the dog.
One final tip: Even if the activity you’re doing doesn’t require a facial covering, always keep one with you. You may not be able to control other people getting too close to you in the locker room, parking lot, or along a hiking trail, but the more people wear masks, the lower the chance of anyone unknowingly spreading the coronavirus.
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Date Last Reviewed: June 17, 2020
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD