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Six feet apart: Staying active while physically distancing

It’s no secret maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle has positive impacts in our lives. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or live a slightly more sedentary lifestyle, everyone can benefit from movement.

As our communities continue to be impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, physical activity and getting fresh air are important for both our physical and mental fitness. While physical distancing may prevent us from getting too close to those around us, there are still many ways to be active at home or outside.

Neighbourhood walks
Enjoyed by many, the neighbourhood walk allows you to get outside and move your body while enjoying your surroundings. When encountering others simply step-aside or pass others quickly. If you and a member of your household are walking side-by-side, move to a single file formation if there are others walking past you.  Depending on where you live, distancing might provide a challenge. Consider switching your walk to a time of day that is less likely to be highly trafficked or bring a mask or a face covering to err on the side of caution1.  

Utilize a gym or fitness studio
While this option is higher risk, it is possible to work out at a facility while staying safe.  Any fitness facility you go to should have proper protocols in place to meet the recommendations of province you are in. Ranging from reduced numbers, to scheduled times, to wearing a mask in some facilities, it’s their job to help keep you safe. Whether you already belong to a gym, or are looking at signing up, it’s important to ensure that safety and distancing policies are taken seriously2.  

Home workouts
Your living room, basement or backyard can provide a great space for you to stay active. Even without a home gym setup you can benefit from stretching, using hand weights, practicing yoga, or running on a treadmill if you have one3. Utilize your stairs by making multiple trips up and down each day, or give yourself a daily goal of hitting a certain number of steps. If you’re missing the social element of a home workout, consider hosting a Zoom or Skype exercise video call with friends.

Household chores
Doing chores around the house can be a great form of exercise and keeps us moving. Tasks like cleaning out a closet, vacuuming, sweeping and mopping all involve using upper body strength paired with walking, while mowing the lawn lets you stretch out your legs4.  

If you have a local conservation area or trail system close by, hiking is a fantastic way to get some exercise in while spending some time in nature.  If utilizing a conservation authority, be sure to check their website to see if a booking system is in place to help control the flow of people.  As some hiking trails can be narrow, it’s a good idea to bring a face covering if you can’t easily pass someone while maintaining proper distancing.

Moving your body and remaining physically active can have lasting positive impacts on your physical and mental well-being.  Just because we’re physically distancing, doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy physical activity.

1 Ottawa Public Health Department
2 Ottawa Public Health Department
3 Australian Department of Health


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