What is the Current State of Outdoor Activities?

As lockdowns ease and restrictions governing our movement are lifted, many of us are returning to the outdoors for the first time in several months. But the coronavirus isn’t gone and the risks of infection remain, prompting some to wonder just how safe it is to partake in our favorite activities. To help us sort through questions regarding the risks we face while outdoors in the midst of a pandemic, Outside magazine has compiled a rundown of the things we enjoy doing, with a look at just how risky those activities actually are.

The article looks at everything from visiting our favorite national parks to mountain biking and camping. Each entry on the list includes a look at the current status of that specific activity, as well as a risk assessment for determining how likely you are to contract COVID-19 while taking part. For example, when it comes to America’s national parks, things are opening up very slowly, and capacity is being highly regulated. Still, even with safety measures in place, Outside ranks this activity as a “medium” risk, not so much for what might happen in the park, but during the journey to and from your destination.

Considering that researchers already feel that going outside during the pandemic isn’t especially risky, it should come as no surprise that most of the activities on Outside‘s list are viewed as relatively low risk. Those activities including camping, hitting the beach, climbing, and mountain biking. In each case, the message is pretty clear—stay away from large crowds and be smart about social distancing, and the chance of contacting COVID-19 are pretty remote. In the case of climbing however, the author does recommend avoiding climbing gyms and sticking to real rock in the outdoors instead.

For anyone who has been paying attention, there isn’t a ton of new information to be found in this article. That said, I’m happy to see an outlet like Outside share clear and accurate information about the risks and rewards of returning to the outdoors. At the moment, we could all probably use a breath of fresh air and some time with nature. Provided you do it safely, you’ll like feel much better afterwards.

Kraig Becker