(03/24/20) BATON ROUGE, La. — Getting outdoors is a great way to alleviate stress and stay active. But as authorities urge people to do their part to limit the spread of coronavirus, it’s important to keep safety in mind while exercising and playing outside.
Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a stay-at-home order that took effect March 23. The order asks that residents remain in their homes, with some exceptions — including going outdoors to exercise.
Denise Holston, an LSU AgCenter nutrition specialist, said people should continue to practice social distancing, leaving at least 6 feet between themselves and others, when visiting parks, trails and other outdoor areas.
“One should definitely not use any open parks or trails if they are exhibiting any symptoms, and they should not use any parks or equipment if it is closed by the local government,” Holston said.
It’s best not to use playground and exercise equipment at public parks right now, she said, even if sanitation measures are taken.
“Yes, they can wipe down the equipment, but especially when kids are involved, it’s almost impossible to prevent them from putting their hands in their mouth or touching their face,” she said. “We are seeing a lot of local governments shut down playgrounds and parks for that reason.”
“If people do go,” she added, “they should clean equipment with disinfectant wipes before and after use. They should avoid touching their face, eyes and mouth, and wash their hands properly or use hand sanitizer after use.”
Visitors to parks also should be aware that restrooms may be closed and water fountains cordoned off, she said.
There are many alternative ways of keeping children busy — such as cycling and walking through the neighborhood — that can be fun for adults, too.
“As they stroll or bike, they can even play a scavenger hunt of sorts, looking for unique items in the neighborhood,” Holston said. “My kids play fetch outdoors with the dog. Gardening can help with stress and is a form of physical activity.”
For those interested in guided fitness routines, Holston suggests checking out online video platforms.
This infographic from the National Recreation and Park Association offers advice on safely visiting parks.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture