Getting Outdoors While Staying Physically Distanced
Summer is in full swing and there is a huge desire to get out of the house and enjoy the sun and warm weather. Since many states reopened, a lot of people have gone out to enjoy usual summertime activities. Others may have felt more comfortable staying at home as much as possible in order to practice physical distancing. For both groups, good news! You can definitely practice physical distancing while getting out of the house and enjoying your summer – though the risk does vary depending on a few factors:
- Your age and personal health
- Prevalence of the virus in your area
- The amount of time spent with people you don’t live with
- The amount of space between you and people you don’t live with
- The amount of people you interact with
- Whether the area is indoors or outdoors
- The type of activity
Though that may seem like a lot of variables, a hospital epidemiologist and infectious diseases specialist interviewed on NPR Morning Edition simplifies them as such: “Always choose outdoor over indoor, always choose masking over not masking and always choose more space for fewer people over a smaller space.”
Getting outdoors and being physically active come with a wealth of physical and mental health benefits. Being in natural areas and getting safe amounts of sunlight can help with stress reduction, regulation of circadian rhythms, and Vitamin D production. Physical activity supports our immune systems, releases endorphins, and can remove toxins – especially when we sweat.
Here are some lower-risk summer activities you can take part in and some considerations you should take about COVID-19:
- Visiting national, state or local parks – Check in advance to see which parks or services are open as this can vary by area. Aim to visit parks close to your home to limit stops during travel. Make sure to bring water, snacks and hand sanitizer!
- Going to the beach – Check with state and local authorities to see which beaches are open to the public and if the water is open for swimming. This can be a great low-risk activity if you are able to stay 6 feet away from people you don’t live with.
- Going to the pool – Avoid crowded pools and keep an eye on the kids. Though beaches are better than pools in terms of space, the water itself is not a risk of transmission due to dilution and sterilizing agents, such as chlorine.
- Exercising outdoors – This can be another great low-risk activity if you avoid contact sports and exercising in close proximity with others. Sports like golf and tennis are great because they are non-contact and you can stay farther apart.
- Backyard gatherings – An outdoor gathering with a small group of people (think 10 or so) who have been physically distancing can be low to medium risk. To lower the risk, bring your own food and drinks and don’t share utensils.
For some additional do’s and don’ts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, check out this page. And remember, if you choose to head outdoors, stay hydrated, use some sunblock and practice physical distancing!
What to do if you or someone else is sick or fears exposure:
Any member of the Stetson community who has been to campus in the last 14 days and feels they may have come into direct contact with the virus causing COVID-19 or is experiencing flu-like symptoms (fever over 100.3, cough, shortness of breath) should alert Stetson immediately. Fill out this online form: Stetson University: COVID-19 Report a Concern Form. During business hours, call Health Service (386-822-8150). After business hours, call Public Safety (386-822-7300). If you are concerned about someone else’s exposure, also let us know – don’t just tell them to do so. This applies to our College of Law students, faculty and staff.