Nature therapy during a pandemic – outdoor safety considerations

Here are a few recent resources on outdoor transmission risk, which has been an extremely important consideration for Nature Therapy Guides.

As the CDC explains*, the risk of an activity depends on local community spread, proximity to others, personal health status, and personal precautions (e.g. mask wearing). Currently, research suggests outdoor activities result in a much lower risk of transmission compared to indoor activities. Additional precautions, such as social distancing and mask wearing, can further reduce transmission risks. Ultimately, the final decision will depend on local regulations on one’s personal risk-benefit assessments. For some areas and persons, home-based nature therapy may be most appropriate until the pandemic has subsided (students and graduates should see the Module 3 handout). For others, with proper precautions, outdoor nature walks may represent a low-risk way to maintain overall wellness.

CDC

Link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/deciding-to-go-out.html

Activities are safer if:

  • You can maintain at least 6 feet of space between you and others. COVID-19 spreads easier between people who are within 6 feet of each other.
  • They are held in outdoor spaces. Indoor spaces with less ventilation where it might be harder to keep people apart are more risky.
  • People are wearing masks. Interacting without wearing masks also increases your risk.
  • Choose outdoor activities and places where it’s easy to stay 6 feet apart, like parks and open-air facilities.

Mayo Clinic

Link: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385

Why choose outdoor activities?

The COVID-19 virus is primarily spread from person to person among those in close contact, within about 6 feet (2 meters). The virus spreads through respiratory droplets released into the air when talking, coughing, speaking, breathing or sneezing. In some situations, especially in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation, the COVID-19 virus can spread when a person is exposed to small droplets or aerosols that stay in the air for minutes to hours.

When you’re outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you’re less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected.

Being outside offers other benefits, too. It offers an emotional boost and can help you feel less tense, stressed, angry or depressed. And sunlight can give your body vitamin D, too.

Research paper from Canterbury Christ Church University

Link: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-10-coronavirus-rare-impossible.html

Almost all documented coronavirus transmissions have occurred indoors…

“There were virtually no cases that we could identify that took place in sort of everyday life outdoors,” study author Mike Weed, a professor and researcher at Canterbury Christ Church University, told AFP.

The data indicates that “outdoors is far safer than indoors, for the same activity and distance,” according to a group of scientists and engineers, including professors from American, British and German universities.

“The risk of transmission is much lower outside than inside because viruses that are released into the air can rapidly become diluted through the atmosphere,” the group explained, comparing the virus-carrying “aerosols” to cigarette smoke.

Read the preprint here.

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