The Importance of Getting Outdoors During the Coronavirus Pandemic
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, we all need to be doing our part to help slow the spread of the virus. Currently, to keep ourselves and our community healthy, the CDC guidelines state to do the following:
- Practice Social Distancing: Remain 6 feet away from others that are not a part of your household and avoid any type of large gathering.
- Wash Your Hands: Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. This is especially important to do right after you’ve been in a public space or coughed, sneezed, or blown your nose.
- Avoid Touching Your Face: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible, especially with unwashed hands.
- Stay Home: If you are feeling sick, stay home unless it is an emergency. If you are experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19, call your doctor for advice before going to the ER or making a doctors appointment. Even if you aren’t feeling sick, you should still avoid visiting nonessential public places as much as possible.
The Importance of Nature
Just about every nonessential business is closed, many community spaces, such as gyms and National Park visitors centers are closed, and all events or large gatherings have been canceled. Everyone has the phrases “social distancing” and “stay home” on their minds and many are perceiving this as "stay indoors." So, what does that mean for those who love being outdoors? Well, the good news is that the great outdoors isn’t closed and the sunshine isn’t canceled. In fact, doctors recommend you spend time in nature as long as you follow the social distancing requirements. Not only is it a good way to stay fit, but it can reduce your stress levels, make you feel a sense of reconnection and solace, and even boost your immune system.
Listed below are some ways you can get outdoors and enjoy nature! Just remember to maintain 6 feet away from others and do not do these activities in large groups.
- Take a walk, run, or bike around the neighborhood if you live in a less dense area.
- Visit your nearest park and go for a walk, run, or bike ride.
- Some national and state parks have remained opened (with some changes), and are a great place to go for a walk or hike if you live close by.
- Some beaches and lakes have remained opened, so take a walk on the shoreline, go for a swim, or simply relax on the beach.
- Spend some time doing yard work or gardening.
What about Camping?
When it comes to camping, things can get a little tricky. Many campgrounds have closed, and doctors aren’t recommending long road trips due to the numerous public rest areas and convenience store stops you will have to make.
However, the KOA is keeping an updated list of the campgrounds they still have open and many small local campgrounds have remained open with some changes and precautions. We recommend calling ahead before making any plans, but booking a campsite at a local campground (within an hour or two away) is a great way to keep supporting your community and get the chance to spend time outdoors.
While boon docking and dispersed camping adhere to the social distancing guidelines, keep in mind that every state may have different Public Health Orders affecting those activities. For example, The Southeast Utah Health Department, on March 17, 2020, issued a Public Health Order that requires overnight lodging establishments to only accept new reservations for "essential visitors." This includes everything from hotels to camping on public or private lands. However, hiking and biking on BLM land and most national parks is still possible. Circumstances are constantly changing, so it is important to do your research and call specific parks before making plans.
Overall, it is critical to make wise decisions for the health and safety of both yourself and your family. While travel and long road trips may not be recommended, you should still try to spend time outside everyday. As we discussed in a previous article, time in nature improves both your physical and mental health - something we should all be focusing on right now.
All of us are dealing with uncertainty right now. On top of that, many of us are adjusting to working from home for the first time, are not being able to see friends and loved ones, and are experiencing feelings of isolation. It is only natural that this may be causing you stress and anxiety, which means it might be hard to find the motivation to get outside. If that sounds like you, we would like to offer a solution!
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the economy, more and more pets are being surrendered to shelters. If you are able, consider fostering or adopting a furry friend! Dogs are great companions any time of the year, but the value of their companionship is made even more evident during times like this. Studies show that petting a dog reduces feelings of stress and anxiety, not to mention they are a great motivator to get outside and be active! All your extra free time can be productively used on training and you are sure to be rewarded with unconditional love and companionship! Did we mention that dogs love being outdoors? Especially camping!
If you aren’t much of a dog person, don’t worry! There are plenty of cats who need loving homes. While they may not encourage you to get out and go for a walk, they do help ease the feelings of loneliness and provide endless hours of entertainment! Click here to learn more about the benefits of fostering or adopting shelter pets!
No matter how you choose to spend this time, I think we can all agree on the importance of reconnecting with ourselves, our family and nature. Stay safe, stay well, and most importantly, rely on official sources such as the CDC or WHO for COVID-19 updates.