Are you having anxiety or stress staying inside all the time? Are all your outdoor plans being canceled? You are not alone. Most of us have never been through anything like the COVID-19 pandemic. Physical activity is important to combat that anxiety and stress. According to the American Heart Association, it can relieve stress, depression, anxiety, and anger, as well as improve your overall health. This is because physical activity releases endorphins, which makes you happier. The CDC recommend adults get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week, which is totally doable! It’s only 30 minutes a day for 5 days. Just because you can’t go outside, doesn’t mean you can’t continue to exercise. Here are some things you can do to cope and stay active while you are self-quarantined.
You can get in a whole exercise routine without leaving your home with exercise videos. Dig out your favorite exercise video or look online for free videos. There are millions of great exercise or dance videos on YouTube if you don’t have any. Try a couple and see which ones you like. There are even exercise videos to improve your hiking (like this one from REI), so you will be ready to hit the trail after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
Virtual races are great ways to be physically active at a social distance. They are also more flexible than in-person races, and you can do them at your own pace. You choose the location. It can be on the treadmill, around your neighborhood, inside your home, on a trail, or anywhere else you choose. 365 Mile Challenge is hosting an awesome virtual marathon called Run Wild Week held over National Park Week (April 18-26, 2020) to support the National Park Foundation. This virtual marathon is unique because you choose the activity as well. You can walk, run, bike, paddle, swim, or any combination of these activities. Then, move 26.2 miles anytime between April 18-26, which is just over 3 miles a day! Keep track of your miles on the tracking sheet we will provide you or you can use any other method you’d like. That’s all it takes to finish the marathon! All participants will get a beautiful medal and a finisher’s certificate to commemorate their achievement. Learn more about our virtual races here! Making plans for a virtual race can help you look forward to something and take your mind off the uncertainties of current events. It is also a great way to motivate you to stay physically active.
Be Active in 365 Mile Challenge
Connecting with people virtually can help relieve stress and loneliness during the COVID-19 quarantine. 365 Mile Challenge has a wonderful, supportive group of people on the member-only Facebook group and other social media accounts. If you are not already posting on the group, I recommend it. You can virtually connect with like-minded people where you can share your ups and downs and get support when you need it. It will help you stay on track of your activity goals. Even if you’re too shy to post on the Facebook group (you’re not the only one), looking at all the posts from other members can be inspiring and will let you know that you are not alone. We are here for you – to encourage, support, and inspire you to move where you can.
Nature Virtual Tours and Webcams
Nature brings me peace. It relaxes me, while also re-energizing me. If you are like me, it is hard to be away from nature so long. Luckily, there is something that can help. You may not be able to physically go to your favorite parks and trails, but that doesn’t mean they can’t come to you. If you have a treadmill at home, you can even watch a live webcam while on a treadmill to make it a virtual hike. There are lots of different nature virtual tours and live webcams online. Explore.org and countless parks’ websites are great places to start. Here are a couple of my favorites:
Hidden Worlds of National Parks – Follow park rangers on a journey exploring 5 incredible national parks. It highlights Kenai Fjords National Park, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Dry Tortugas National Park.
Crater Lake National Park Virtual Tour – Take a 360-degree video tour of Crater Lake National Park.
Yellowstone National Park Webcams – Explore Yellowstone National Park’s 9 webcams (1 live and 8 static). Watch Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin live or learn about Yellowstone’s geysers.
Redwood Forest River Live Cam – Beautiful live camera footage of the Redwood Forest River.
National Park Webcams – If all else fails, here is a gallery of national park multimedia webcam footage.
Go Outside Responsibly
If nothing else works and you need to go outdoors, there are some factors to consider before hitting the trail. First, check your park’s website or social media accounts for the most current information on its operations. Many parks are closed, or at least the facilities are closed. You don’t want to drive there only to see that you must turn around. Also, always follow the CDC guidelines for the safety of yourself and others. Slowing the spread of COVID-19 is everyone’s responsibility. If you can’t follow them, you should not leave your house.
Stay Close to Home
Can you get to your park without pit-stops, like a gas station or convenience store? If you can’t, consider choosing a different park. Staying close to home will avoid additional points of contact, which will lessen the chance of exposure. Parks, especially National Parks, are experiencing higher visitation from people all over the country, including people from heavily affected areas. This creates opportunity for the virus to spread. It is safer for everyone to stay close to home and avoid extra stops to or from the trail.
Avoid Busy Trails
It is also important to avoid busy areas and trails. You should always be able to maintain 6 feet apart from others. Parks are designed to concentrate people on trails and overlooks to protect the environment, which makes social distancing difficult. If you can’t safely distance yourself from others, then the trail is not safe. Please use extra caution.
Leave No Trace
Leave No Trace (LNT) teaches us how to minimize our impacts to the outdoors, which is even more important now with many parks’ facilities closed. There are Seven Principles of Leave No Trace, which “provide an easily understood framework of minimum impact practices for anyone visiting the outdoors.”1 The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace are:
- Plan Ahead & Prepare
- Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- Leave What You Find
- Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Respect Wildlife
- Be Considerate of Other Visitors
You can find more information about each of the principles at LNT.org. The seven principles should always be followed while visiting the outdoors. Extra consideration should be made to the trash you may have. Your park’s trash services may have been reduced due to the quarantine, so pack out everything you bring in. Please don’t liter or make the lives of your park’s limited staff harder than it needs to be.
We will make it through the COVID-19 outbreak. Until then, I hope these tips will help you stay safe, active and sane during self-quarantine.