Summertime is about spending time with family and friends and enjoying outdoor activities. Getting air and exercise have long-lasting effects on your health and wellbeing, including immense influences on your immunity.
So what happens this summer, when we are still stuck in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic? The crisis has rewired us to constantly be aware of our surroundings and practice safety in all activities. This should be no different. While your summer vacation may have been put on hold, there are still some activities you and your family can do.
Just be careful.
You are at a significantly lower risk of contracting the virus being outside than indoors, where the vast majority of infection has spread because of people being in close proximity. Wind may play a role in potentially limiting the spread of the disease, but may make viral particles travel further distances, which means you should practice social distancing and wear a mask while in public.
Here, we look at some popular summertime activities and determine whether they are safe or not.
Barbecues can be done safely. Make sure you answer the following:
- Who’s going to be there? Are the people you know who practice social distancing?
- What activities will happen? Eating obviously means you won’t be wearing a mask, but can you distance yourself when you do. Can you enjoy the event’s other activities while wearing a mask?
- How long are you barbecuing for? Are you just meeting up for an hour or is it a night out after a very long and stressful winter?
- Will there be drinking? We all know everything relaxes once alcohol is involved.
So yes, barbecues can be done safely. Be smart about it.
Pools and pool parties
Pool parties are similar to barbecues. Again, wear a mask and practice social distancing when outside of the pool. There is currently no evidence of COVID-19 transmitting through pool water. So, it’s really the people inside the pool that could be an issue. Pools are great to break up long summer days and heat. Keep your distance, if possible.
Walks are fantastic and very safe. Any physical activity is really important to strengthening your immune system. My family and I have taken advantage and gotten out for walks since the pandemic started. It’s a good way to keep you moving, especially during the nicer weather, and they can improve your cardiovascular health.
Golf is another safe activity because it assumes social distancing. Any non-contact activity while being outdoors is going to be safe, as long as you can maintain a distance from those who are also on the course.
Bike riding can be the same as walks, but less predictable because you can quickly go from a very low density area to a space with a group of people. There has been some calls in the media about bike riders creating plumes of the virus. We don’t know if this has any significant impact. Just protect yourself and wear a mask if you’re taking a ride.
Are public restrooms safe?
Public restrooms are actually designed to minimize infection and are cleaned pretty regularly. Staying safe while using them is actually up to you. If there’s a line, wear your mask. Also, don’t stand too close to the person in front of you on line. Maintain a six-foot distance. Try to get in and get out. As always, wash your hands.
The author Dr. Zenobia Brown is vice president and medical director of population health at Northwell Health. She oversees the clinical programs within Northwell Health Solutions—the health system’s care management arm. For more health and wellness tips, visit northwell.edu/insights.