Getting active and spending time outdoors are important for our overall physical and mental wellness. When staying home more often and practicing physical distancing, there are still plenty of ways to be active and get outside.
It is recommended that adults between the ages of 18 and 64 engage in 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. With physical activity, more is better! Increased physical activity leads to greater health benefits.
Note that for those who are self-isolating without symptoms, you must stay on your own property and keep a 2 metre distance from any shared spaces. If you have symptoms, you have to stay inside your house.
Walking and cycling to get to work, school and other places may be a new change to your daily routine because of COVID-19, or it may be something you did before the pandemic. Either way, walking and cycling or wheeling (e.g. skateboarding, roller blading, scootering etc.) is still considered a safe and healthy choice to get around. It is also an easy way to build physical activity into the day!
Continue to take precautions against COVID-19, such as practicing physical distancing and avoiding close contact with people outside of your household.
The Ontario Active School Travel Council has offered general recommendations for safe and healthy school travel. The Council recommends active school travel (walking and wheeling) for all students not traveling by school bus or public transit. These guidelines include:
- Walking and wheeling to school whenever possible.
- Staying at least 2 metres away from others who are not part of your household (e.g. students, other parents/caregivers, crossing guards, patrollers and school staff) at all times.
- Wearing a mask when physical distancing is not possible.
- Walking and cycling in single file as much as possible.
- Where more pedestrians are present on sidewalks/paths near schools, dismount from bikes.
- Allowing children to walk/wheel independently all or part of the way to school and practice the route to school before the first trip.
- Collaborating with other families and taking turns leading small groups of children to walk/wheel together if children need to be supervised.
- When parents need to drive, parking the car one or more blocks from the school site and walking the rest of the way.
It is important to be mindful of safety due to traffic congestion in school zones. Remember to keep heads up, phones down and watch for traffic. Choose a route to school that has sidewalks or lower levels of traffic.
Ride with your children until they are approximately 10 years of age when they are better able to judge the speed of oncoming traffic. Safer places for children to ride alone can include bike paths and streets with lower speed limits.
Bikes require working brakes, inflated tires, and reflectors and should be the correct size. Always wear a helmet, and fit it properly every time you ride. Obey the rules of the road – learn how to use hand signals. Remember to keep heads up, phones down, and watch for traffic. Never dodge cars and keep alert for open car doors as you ride.
In Your Yard
If you have access to a yard, try to get outside in your available yard space and enjoy the fresh air. Cut the grass, clean out the flower beds, play catch or soccer with a housemate, sweep the steps and driveway or do some exercises on the lawn.
At the Park
Parks and playgrounds are currently open for public use. Be mindful that playground equipment is not regularly sanitized. Consider bringing hand sanitizer with you and using it before and after playing on any equipment.
Remember to practice physical distancing with others outside your household - children will need frequent reminders to do this and of how far 2 metres is.
Utilize parks and other open spaces to play games, kick or throw a ball around, play frisbee, do some exercises or just run/ walk around.
On the Trails
Sidewalks, streets, and multiuse paths are all still available for walking, running, biking, etc. There are also many hiking trails nearby that offer plenty of space.
It is important to be conscious of other trail users and respect the shared public space. Follow these simple rules and use trail etiquette to ensure all users have a safe and enjoyable experience:
- Obey all traffic laws, posted signs and signals.
- Keep a 2 metre (6 foot) distance from others.
- Don’t litter.
- Keep pets on a leash and remember to clean up after them.
- Walk, run, ride or roll at a safe speed in a safe, consistent and predictable manner.
- Don't block the trail.
- Keep on the right-hand side of the trail, except when passing.
- Step aside or pass others quickly and courteously. Passing someone is not considered a close contact or a significant risk for exposure to COVID-19.
- When passing, cyclists should use their bell or say "on your left" to let others know they'll be passing on their left. Always pass in single file.
- Slower walkers should be alert and move to the right when others have announced their approach from behind.
- Non-walkers (i.e. cyclists, rollerbladers, skateboarders, etc.) must all yield to pedestrians.
- Change your route or the time of day that you go out, if necessary, so that you can follow these guidelines.
- Try a different hiking trail or path if there are already a lot of vehicles in the parking lot.
If you can’t get outside or the weather is not cooperating, there are many ways to be active indoors. Be creative and use what you have at home to keep everyone moving. Put on some music and dance, play a dance game (e.g. Just Dance), follow an exercise video, walk some flights of stairs or do some exercises, like push-ups and squats. Access online resources for both live and recorded activities that you can follow along with.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Physical inactivity is a risk factor for chronic disease. It is recommended that adults between the ages of 18 and 64 engage in 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
Here are some tips to keep active during the workday while working remotely:
- Build movement into your daily routine. Try setting an alarm to remind you to get up, move, and stretch every hour.
- Go for a quick walk around your neighbourhood on your breaks.
- Try some bodyweight exercises that don’t need much space or equipment but still get your heart pumping – like crunches, squats, or planks.
- If you have some extra time on your lunch break, try some pilates or yoga, have a dance party or do some yard work or house cleaning.
- Download the ParticipACTION app (on Apple App Store or Google Play) for tips for being active at home. BONUS: they award weekly, monthly, and quarterly draws just for using their app.
Being flexible with how you achieve your physical activity minutes while working from home will help you sit less and move more, even when it’s challenging.