As local communities continue to update Covid-19 regulations, local destinations for outdoor recreation may be closed. Please visit official websites for the latest information.

Gym Closed? It's Time to Go Hiking

Unplug for a while and get back to nature. 

Gym Closed? It's Time to Go Hiking

From small towns to big cities, communities throughout the United States have begun putting "social distancing" measures into practice in an attempt to control the spread of COVID-19. Large social gatherings are being cancelled, schools are closing, and community events are getting called off.  

Aside from doing your part to help keep your community safe by following proper safety procedures, you will have to find new ways to stay entertained all while keeping yourself a safe distance away from others.

One great way to do that? Getting outdoors. Gyms are closing across the country, so it's also a good time to figure out a new way to get in your exercise. 

During this period of isolation, consider exploring one of your local hiking trails. Studies show that hiking is not only good for your physical health, but your mental health as well. We all know we'll be going a little stir crazy without places to go and people to see, and getting back to nature is a good way to keep your mind clear. 

Here are just a few of the physical and mental health benefits we get from hiking: 

  • Reduces risk of heart disease – Keeping your heart healthy is important and engaging in cardiovascular fitness is an excellent way to reduce your risk of heart-related conditions and diseases. 
  • Lowers blood pressure – According to the American Heart Association (AHA), more than 103 million U.S. adults have high blood pressure. By increasing your physical activity, you can get better control of your blood pressure levels.  
  • Improves bone density – Weight-bearing exercises increase the strength of your bones. Those exercises include walking, jogging, and hiking. 
  • Reduces stress and improves mental wellbeing – Staying active and making your body work a little harder can greatly reduce stress levels. You can improve your overall mental wellbeing by getting fresh air and getting your heart pumping.

Not only are gyms closing, but entertainment spaces like bars and restaurants are shuttering as well. If you are practicing social distancing with friends, family, or members of your household, getting out on a hiking trail will also be a good way to keep busy and entertained. 


Important Note: While you will be outdoors, there is always the risk of hiking trails being overcrowded with people, depending on the trail. Keep yourself a safe distance away from others if you are hiking on a busy trail or do your best to avoid the busier areas.


In addition to getting outdoors and keeping your mind and body healthy, make sure to uphold your responsibility as a citizen during this difficult time. 

One of the best ways to do your part in helping keep your community safe is to follow the proper safety procedures. Here are a few things you can do to avoid illness: 

  • Avoid contact with sick individuals – If you are aware of someone who is exhibiting flu-like symptoms, it's best to avoid contact with them. Contact with a sick person greatly increases your chance of contracting the virus.   
  • If you feel sick, stay home – If you come down with a fever, develop a cough, or are exhibiting any other flu-like symptoms, stay home. Call a medical professional to evaluate the best next steps to take. Do not go to a healthcare facility unless your situation is severe.   
  • Don't touch your face – Illness can best be avoided by not touching your nose, eyes, mouth or any area on the face. 
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue (not your hands) and then dispose of the tissue – Never cough or sneeze into your hands. If you do, disinfect them immediately with antibacterial soap or hand sanitizer.  
  • Disinfect surfaces – Frequently-touched surfaces should be disinfected with the appropriate sprays and wipes to avoid the spread of the virus. 
  • Only wear a face mask if you are sick – Face masks should not be worn by the healthy. Only wear a face mask if you are sick or you are caring for a sick person.  
  • Wash your hands frequently – Before you use the bathroom, before you eat, after coughing or sneezing, after touching surfaces in public places, it's important to wash your hands. Wash your hands as frequently as possible. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.  

Stay up to date on the latest developments by visiting local government websites to see what is happening in your community. 

For more information on the health benefits of hiking consult the following resources:

For more information on how to stay prepared and prevent transmission of COVID-19, consult the following resources from the CDC:

As local communities continue to update Covid-19 regulations, local destinations for outdoor recreation may be closed. Please visit official websites for the latest information.

Subscribe for future Step Outside News!