Kitchener-Waterloo

Exercising outdoors? You may want to wear a mask, says Waterloo region's medical officer of health

As the pandemic drags on, getting outside for a walk or run can be a good way to fight cabin fever and get a little exercise to boot. But while it’s mandatory to wear a mask in indoor public spaces in Waterloo region, is it necessary to wear one while taking a stroll down the Spurline Trail?

Passing by someone is ‘low risk’ but risk increases if you're encountering many people

People walk and run along a path in Ottawa on Jan. 14, 2021. Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang says it may not be possible for everyone to wear a face covering while exercising, but that if you can't, it's important to keep a distance from others. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, but the weather warms up this week, getting outside for a walk or run can be a good way to fight cabin fever and get a little exercise to boot.

But while it's mandatory to wear a mask in indoor public spaces in Waterloo region, do you need to wear one while taking a stroll down the Spurline Trail?

It's not a bad idea, says Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the region's medical officer of health.

"There's less risk outdoors, but if you could be within six feet of other people outdoors, I think it's just good to keep a face covering on," Wang said Friday in response to a question during a regular media briefing.  

Still, she said not everyone can keep a mask on while exercising vigorously.

If that's the case for you, Wang said it's even more crucial to allow six feet of distance from other people.

What about when briefly passing someone on the sidewalk?

"Passing someone is very low risk, but at the same time, if you're passing a lot of people that could be within six feet your risk increases," Wang said.

In general, she said that if people can wear a mask while exercising, it's "great."  

"If you're not able to, then do whatever you can to stay away from people physically as much as you can, at least six feet," she said. "And try to make those interactions as brief and transitory as you can. "

Speaking to reporters Friday, Wang also urged people to continue staying at home and avoiding interactions with people outside their household.

Waterloo region is currently in the province's red zone, which allows exercise and physical activity as an "essential" reason to leave home.  

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