SALT LAKE CITY — The COVID-19 pandemic has led to mass closures of schools and businesses as well as a push for "social distancing," but the outdoors may provide a healthy alternative for getting out of the house.
The White House has recommended that gatherings of 10 people or more be canceled or postponed, and the Salt Lake County medical director has urged the practice of social distancing. Utahns are encouraged to avoid large gatherings and going out in groups, isolate themselves wherever possible, and keep a 6-foot distance from one another while in public.
These limitations have made both exercise and social activities limited, but the great outdoors provides an excellent alternative to being isolated at home. Dr. Robert Murphy, director of the Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told WTTW in Chicago, Illinois that the outdoors provides a good alternative as long as people still use recommended safety protocols.
The following are some safe activities that allow Utahns to maintain social distancing while exercising in the outdoors:
Go on a hike
Utah has a massive network of world-class hiking trails throughout the state. Hiking provides an opportunity to get outdoors, exercise and spend time in public without concern of being too close to other people. Remember to keep a 6-foot distance from other hikers and wash your hands upon returning home.
Not sure where to go hiking? Explore Utah.com’s database of hikes throughout the state for ideas.
Explore some new trails via bicycle
Cycling, like hiking, provides an opportunity to recreate outdoors without being surrounded by large numbers of people, and without the need to be closer than 6 feet away from other cyclists. As Utah is warming up for spring, road biking is in full swing and mountain biking trails will soon be ready for those eager to get deeper into nature.
Mountain biking options can be found here.
Play outdoor games with your family members
Even when isolating oneself and one’s family at home, fresh air can be experienced by playing outdoor games like soccer and football with family members or roommates.
Go rock climbing outside
Rock climbing gyms across the state have been closing temporarily to help reduce the spread of the virus. For those who rely on climbing for their own physical fitness, this has thrown a wrench in maintaining personal health as well as having fun.
Luckily, rock climbing is just as accessible outdoors as it is indoors, and more climbing will become available as temperatures continue to rise. Get outside and enjoy rock climbing on some of Utah’s natural climbing destinations. Remember to go in small groups and sanitize your hands after touching climbing holds.
Explore some local climbing options here.
Enjoy the backcountry by going backcountry skiing
As many backcountry skiers have already discovered, with ski resorts closing and mandates to stay away from other people becoming increasingly demanding, getting out into the backcountry to go skiing is an excellent way to enjoy the outdoors without risking infection.
Stick to small groups and ensure you are adequately prepared to go backcountry skiing safely.
Find local backcountry skiing destinations here.
Remember to maintain caution, keep your hands clean, avoid touching your face, and stick to groups of fewer than 10 people while enjoying any of these activities.