Ranking COVID-Friendly Activities That Are Safe To Do This Spring

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Although the COVID-19 vaccine is slowly rolling out around the world, most people still haven’t been vaccinated. With more contagious strains of the virus spreading across the states, it's as important as ever to take steps to reduce your exposure.

"We've all developed COVID fatigue. We're all tired of restrictions and physical distancing requirements,” says Jennifer Burgess, D.O., a primary care physician at Henry Ford Health System. "But COVID-19 is still a real threat. We still have to protect ourselves from exposure. The only way to do that is to follow safety precautions."

What Activities Are Low or High Risk?

You already know that staying home, mask-wearing, maintaining physical distancing requirements and frequent handwashing are the cornerstones of preventing COVID-19. But that doesn't mean you have to go on total lockdown again this spring. In fact, a variety of low-risk activities are acceptable as the weather starts to warm up.

Here are several favorite pastimes and what you can do to make them safer:

  • Air travel. Coming off the colder months and with spring break,  it's common for people from the Mitten to head south. Some people are willing to take the risk of potential exposure to COVID-19 if it means they can improve their mental health and enjoy some time in the sun. Unfortunately, travel is still a higher-risk pursuit. Still ready to roll? Wear a higher-grade mask, such as an N95 or KN95, rather than a cloth or surgical mask. And make sure you pack plenty of hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. "Once you arrive at your destination, keep your mask on and hang out in your hotel or physically distanced outdoors," Burgess says.
  • Visiting a salon. Hair and nail salons are opened back up, but since services are provided indoors and last for an hour or more, it's a riskier pursuit. Set on touching up your roots? Make sure your salon is following safe practices. There should be partitions between stations and the salon itself should be at 50% capacity or less. "If it's packed, I recommend finding a new salon," Burgess says.
  • Going to the gym. Like salons, gyms have reopening in Michigan, albeit with additional sanitation measures and physical distancing rules. When you're working out, you breathe heavier, which can make it easier for respiratory droplets to spread. "Going to the gym is still a risky venture," Burgess says. A safer bet: Exercise outdoors or at home.
  • Dining in a restaurant. Restaurant dining looks a whole lot different these days. Instead of sitting at an intimate table in a cozy dining room, the restaurants only allow for 50% capacity with more spaced out seating arrangements or offer igloos and tents for outdoor dining. If you're eating with people who are not immediate family members and housemates, dining out is a higher-risk activity. The reason: You can't eat while wearing a mask.
  • Outdoor activities. With the weather starting to warm up, now is a great time to enjoy more time being active outside. The bonus: most outdoor activities are relatively low risk, particularly if you go it alone or participate only with people who live in your home. Want to meet up with friends for an outdoor hike? "Make sure to wear a mask," Burgess says.
  • Staying at a vacation rental property. Staying at a rental property with your immediate circle is low risk, as long as you practice safety measures once you arrive. Driving is better than flying, particularly if you keep stops to a minimum and pack your own snacks.
  • Getting a massage. "This one is a tough call," Burgess says. There are plenty of health benefits to getting a therapeutic massage, but coronavirus changes all of the rules. If you really need a rubdown, make sure you're wearing a mask and that your masseuse is wearing one, too — and that the place where you're getting the massage has implemented appropriate precautions.

Easing COVID Fatigue

It's important to remember that getting outside and connecting with loved ones is also important for maintaining health and well-being. While viruses tend to settle in the air for longer during the cold winter months than they do in the summer, you can still enjoy outdoor activities.

"Hiking and other outdoor activities are all lower-risk, particularly if you're doing them with people who are in your 'safe' bubble," Burgess says. "Just make sure you're wearing a mask when you're around others."

Indoor activities like going to a gym or visiting a salon are inherently riskier. But that doesn't mean they’re completely off the table, particularly if you practice safe distancing, wear a mask and take appropriate COVID-19 precautions.

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To find a doctor at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-436-7936.

Dr. Jennifer Burgess is a family medicine doctor seeing patients at Henry Ford Medical Center in Commerce Township and West Bloomfield.

Categories: FeelWell