Ashley Cano

Ashley Cano

As COVID-19 positive cases linger into the summer, could outdoor group exercise be a long term solution to the physical and social activities we are missing, while keeping us safe from the virus?

Let’s face it, since the COVID- 19 outbreak and subsequent isolation period, most of us are not the picture of health. Quarantine has left us physically inactive and mentally drained; whether it be from job instability, financial stress, or lack of social interaction. Those wanting to return to even a semblance of normalcy are looking for safe outlets to get back out in the community. With phase two of Governor Greg Abbott’s plan underway, Texas is slowly reopening. People that were active prior to COVID-19 are returning to physical activity and making their way back to the gym, but not everyone is as eager to start an exercise program or return to physical activity, and some are still not ready for indoor exercise with others just yet.

Those with comorbidities such as hypertension, diabetes, COPD and cardiovascular disease are at a higher risk for contracting the coronavirus; and while this group would benefit the most from physical activity to help boost their immune system, many are still not engaging in physical activities for fear of becoming ill. In addition to those with chronic diseases, recent studies have shown there is a significant correlation between the severity of symptoms and Body Mass Index (BMI) in younger COVID-19 positive patients, making obesity a risk factor as well. With obesity on the rise, it’s important now more than ever for our community to focus on healthy eating and exercise. So what can we do to encourage the community to get physically active (and stay active) while also improving their mental wellness? We need to start thinking outside the box… literally.

Outdoor fitness classes are doable in Victoria County and can be very practical when trying to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. According to the CDC, COVID-19 transmission occurs from person to person through liquid droplets that are produced when an infected person talks, sneezes, or breathes deeply; which are then inhaled by a non-infected person. Though the virus can live in air droplets for 3 hours, in an outdoor setting (when social distancing of at least 6 ft apart is maintained), larger droplets will fall close to where they were released, making outdoor transmission very low. Combine distancing measures with recommended facial masks and sanitization practices, and you have an effective formula for all types of events (as long as the venue can accommodate large gatherings).

Texas Healthy Communities is actively promoting these types of physical activities in Victoria County by hosting a series of free yoga, meditation, and qigong sessions from May through August. For those still not ready to join in person, these classes are made available online via Facebook live stream on the Victoria County Public Health Department’s Facebook page. Check out vcphd.org under the “Texas Healthy Communities” division for more information on our upcoming events.

Texas Healthy Communities is a state funded grant of the Victoria County Public Health Department that focuses primarily on community awareness and education of public health priorities and chronic disease prevention/management.

Ashley Cano is a licensed vocational nurse, public health community advocate for Texas Healthy Communities.

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