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Is it Safe to Do Outdoor Winter Exercise During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

  • Category: Blog
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  • Written By: Fox Valley Orthopedics

With the COVID-19 pandemic cases and death rates surging, it’s understandable many are reluctant to leave home to workout. With the temperatures below freezing for much of the Midwest, it’s understandable that the idea of going for a jog or doing outdoor yoga would be less-than-appealing for most people, even though they may have done so in the warmer months. This raises the question, though – is it safe to do outdoor workouts while wearing a face mask, or is it better to stay home and do virtual workouts? Should you brave the cold, workout at an indoor gym, or just stay home? The answer is complex, and even more so because it can be challenging to be motivated to work out during COVID-19.

Working Out in the Winter Months During COVID-19

Even though the winter months are harsh for many, outdoor workouts are recommended over indoor gyms in terms of safety. You can make outdoor activities less burdensome by using hand warmers, wearing appropriate outerwear, and wearing proper footwear with traction. Apart from the risk of contracting COVID-19, there are other risks of working out outside when the mercury drops. If you’re daunted by the idea of a jog when the risk of slipping on ice or compacted snow is higher, consider a brisk walk. Skip public transportation, which is another health risk, and replace it with a daily walk. And whatever exercise you choose is best for you and safest, make sure to stretch before physical activity, stay hydrated, and ensure proper footing by shoveling snow in your path and scraping ice. Always wear a helmet and/or protective equipment during winter sports, and make sure you supervise your children while playing outdoors. No matter what you do, always remember to wear a face mask and keep yourself socially distanced at least 6 feet apart from those who do not live under the same roof as you.

Click here to read the Mayo Clinic’s tips for safe outdoor workouts in winter weather.

Working Out Indoors During COVID-19: At the Gym, At Home, or Elsewhere

Looking for safer exercise activities that don’t subject you to the cold, ice, or snow? You’re not alone. Keep in mind, though, that moving indoors is a significant risk if you enter a gym, especially if the equipment isn’t properly spaced and sanitized between users. There are ways you can keep yourself safer, but the risk of transmitting the virus is still not foolproof, even in the best circumstances.

A gym that allots members time periods to workout also prevents overcrowding of the facilities. Just make sure you are courteous to other gymgoers by wiping down equipment to minimize the risk of transmitting the virus. Remember to wear a face mask and regularly disinfect your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer, as well. Bring extra face masks, too, as sweat and moisture from heavy breathing can weaken your mask’s effectiveness. If you want to be in more control, bring your own exercise mats, weights, or equipment to reduce sharing surfaces with others. If you want to do indoor group exercise classes, make sure there are 10 or fewer people, and you are at least 6 feet apart from others in your class.

If you plan to stay at home to work up a sweat, all the better. In fact, the American Heart Association has compiled virtual workouts and streaming events to help you get moving from the comfort of home, and there’s no need to rush out and buy a top-of-the-line treadmill, either.

Contact Fox Valley Orthopedics

Still have questions? We’ve got you covered. Contact us at Fox Valley Orthopedics today by calling (630) 584-1400 to learn more or to make an appointment with one of our board-certified orthopedic doctors.