Amid all the talk of the current global pandemic and the validity of the newest term on everyone’s tongue, social distancing, many are wondering if it’s still safe to go outdoors. Let’s face it, we are in a new reality and this isn’t going to go away quickly so we need to adapt now and for the future.
The CDC continues to recommend that exercise is an excellent way to relieve stress and remain healthy during this stressful time. By now, we have all heard the repeated advice to limit gatherings to less than 10 people and more importantly, keep people from congregating in small spaces where the virus can more easily transmit. Therefore, it would stand to reason that solo exercise in a large open space full of fresh air should be a good thing.
What needs to come first is the health and safety of not just you, but you and everyone else. If you’re under a shelter-in-place order, abide by it. Go outdoors for brief exercise, but don’t get in your car and meet your buddies at your favorite paddling put-in. Even being sneaky by driving in separate cars does not fulfill the spirit of the order. Try something different! There’s a whole world out there. Bicycling, hiking, bird watching, geocaching (bring some sanitizer and a pair of gloves)…call it cross-training.
When you’re able to paddle, we will be dealing with a “new normal”. Start by taking small steps rather than immediately returning to the “old normal” and forming large groups. Be smart about it and don’t be part of the problem. Here are a few ways to ease into paddling:
- Do everyone a favor. If you’re not feeling well, stay home. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s for the health and safety of others around you.
- Start by paddling only with others in your household. In time, you’ll see and paddle with friends again.
- Skip the shuttle. Paddle a lake instead where you can put in and take out in the same place. Paddle upriver and then earn the float back down river. Better yet, find a route that has a bike path running alongside and do a bike shuttle.
- Go where others aren’t. This might be a great opportunity to explore a new spot rather than the tried and true. You might discover a new favorite.
- If you’re solo, leave a float plan with a friend or family member. Let them know where you are, your route, when you’re planning to be off the water, how they can reach you, and when to be worried.
See you on the water soon, as long as we take the right steps now.