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Friday Field Notes banner image: Featuring engaging stories from practitioners about how partnerships with Cooperative Extension help build Community Capacity to support military service men and women and their families.

Our series on Outdoor Rx and nature-based recreation has been a wonderful learning opportunity and a way to see nature in a new perspective.  Then COVID-19 came along.  Businesses have shut down along with recreational activities that you or your family may have once been a part of.  Your morning running group, your children’s soccer team, your weekend barbecues with family and friends, or just getting coffee with a friend at your favorite café has all come to a screeching halt.  Time in nature does not necessarily need to be sacrificed during the coronavirus pandemic.  We can all still enjoy the great outdoors responsibly and benefit from its healing powers.

woman Reading on grass

An article by Huff Post shows that  time in nature has increased as a result of quarantining and social distancing in some areas.  With families cooped up for days or weeks on end, getting outside for some fresh air seems like the perfect remedy for cabin fever.  In Los Angeles many had that same idea, and the beaches actually had to shut down as crowds were so large.

Nature has a healing quality in times of crisis, and nature-based recreation is all about promoting healing and wellness in nontraditional ways.

Here are some ways to get fresh air or enjoy a scenic view safely from

  • Choose solitary activities

    Run, hike, or bike, but don’t play basketball at the neighborhood court. Even if you’re shooting hoops by yourself, public spaces such as fences, goal posts, benches, etc. are hot spots for transmission of coronavirus.  If you’re sheltering in place with family who are not showing any symptoms, then lucky you! You can opt for group/family activities, but again, not in places where risk of transmission is high.  Think basketball in your driveway, for example.

  • Stay local

    Try not to venture far from home when you look for outdoor activities. Seven in ten Americans lives within 100 miles of a national forest.  Some parks are waiving entrance fees during this pandemic.  So, stay as close to home as possible.  You don’t even have to get in your car in many cases to experience nature.  Taking a walk around a city block, practicing yoga on your patio, or gardening in your backyard will suffice as well.

  • Don’t use public amenities

    When you are out exploring, stay away from places where your risk of transmission is high, so try to avoid public bathrooms or gift shops.  All the more reason to stay close to home.

  • Research ahead of time

    A lot of parks are waiving entrance fees at this time. That’s great! They may also be limiting the number of visitors allowed at a given time to prevent overcrowding of trails.  So, check the National Park Service’s website or call an individual park to see what they are doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Woman doing yoga outside

Be sure to follow whatever your state government is ordering at this time.  Carry protective gear like masks and hand sanitizer while you’re out exploring.  If getting outside of your home is not possible, take time to meditate while listening to nature sounds, open a window, or look for ways to make your home greener through recycling.  Remember we are social creatures with a desire to be in nature, as it improves our physical and mental health greatly.  Relieving stress, staying physically active, and boosting immunity is more important than ever during this challenging time.  So, be creative, look to nature, and be well.