How to Plan Outdoor Exercise During the Pandemic

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If your local gym isn't closed for protective anti-COVID measures, you definitely shouldn't be going to it. That said, our need to move around and clock some endorphins doesn't go away just because we're sheltering in place. What's an active (or aspirationally active) person to do when the healthiest thing to do is stay put?

That question has been raging online for several weeks, but it ramped up in earnest in mid-April, when an unpublished paper and the resulting waves of backlash got everybody in a twist. Amid a number of crossed wires, scientists, engineers, and athletes tried to figure out whether runners or cyclists needed to change their facial coverings or alter how far they keep from other people. Meanwhile in Chicago, residents crowded that city's 18.5-mile lakefront bike path so closely that the mayor shut down access entirely.

The Chicago Tribune spoke to a number of experts, since in the aftermath, outdoor athletes have taken to running or biking in residential streets. The odds of transmitting COVID-19 while exerting yourself might actually be lower than you'd think: The droplets the disease is thought to transmit through are heavy enough that they don't linger in the air.

That said, we're all antsy about exposing ourselves to risk. As a courtesy, runners and bikers should stay as far away from pedestrians as possible and avoid group exercise. Runner's World also recommends a moisture-wicking facial wrap called a buff, which looks like a tube or a large headband. We all need to find ways to keep ourselves and each other as safe as possible — and we can, before this thing is all over.