Colorado Parks and Wildlife promotes outdoor health benefits and trail safety etiquette during COVID-19 pandemic
As COVID-19 cases spread like wildfire across the state of Colorado, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is working diligently to keep state parks open so the public can enjoy the health benefits associated with being outside.
As Colorado adjusts to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to find or maintain healthy pastimes that strengthen your physical and mental health. A healthy mind and body can strengthen your immune system, and nature proves to be a valuable refuge for Coloradans, especially in unprecedented times like the one the world is facing.
“Our goal at Colorado Parks and Wildlife is to minimize the effects of COVID-19 on people’s recreation experiences in Colorado, especially now when they need them the most,” State Trails Program Manager Fletcher Jacobs said.
Research shows spending time in nature has physical and mental health benefits.
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- The outdoors helps you get exercise. Physical activity is one of the best things people can do to improve their health. Daily exercise decreases the risk of chronic diseases.
- Sunshine gives your body vitamins. Natural sunlight exposes your body to vitamin D, which is essential for a well-functioning immune system.
- Being in nature reduces anxiety. The outbreak of COVID-19 is stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about illnesses can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Walking outside improves your mental health and reduces stress.
- The outdoors provides aromatherapy that boosts your immune system.Scientists studied that breathing in phytoncide, airborne chemicals produced by plants, increases our levels of white blood cells and helps fight off infections and diseases.
“Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff remain dedicated to our mission to provide a quality state park system and enjoyable outdoor recreation opportunities for our communities, even during this time of uncertainty,” CPW Director Dan Prenzlow said.
Based on guidance from government and public health officials, all Coloradans should take proactive steps to slow and mitigate the transmission of coronavirus to one another. This will help “flatten the curve” in an attempt to keep too many cases from happening at the same time and overwhelming medical facilities across the state.
Park visitors are encouraged to enjoy parks responsibly during the COVID-19 outbreak. Please consider the following when visiting a Colorado state park and comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) social distancing guidelines.
- If you are sick, stay home. Follow CDC guidelines and avoid spreading the virus to others.
- Keep a social distance from others. Coloradans have access to 41 state parks that offer a variety of outdoor activities. CPW recommends activities done alone or with people that live in your home, such as walking, hiking, biking and fishing. These activities can be enjoyed while keeping you at a distance from others. CDC recommends six feet of distance from others.
- Avoid high-risk or remote activities. Accidents stemming from high-risk types of activities may require extensive resources. Colorado Search and Rescue teams are prepared and ready to respond, but could become overloaded if the number of calls increases and the number of available responders decreases. Being responsible outdoors can also help prevent additional burdens on our first responders and healthcare workers.
- Announce your presence to others. Help maintain the recommended six feet of social distance. Signal your presence with your voice or a bell when passing others.
- Stay regional. Front Range residents should avoid traveling to the high country or small mountain communities that are closed to visitors.
- Avoid times and places of high use. To avoid creating large crowds and groups at popular trails or outdoor areas, spread out to less popular spots, and avoid times of highest use if possible. If an outdoor area is more crowded than anticipated, do not hesitate to adjust plans. Use COTREX to discover and explore other local trails in your area to help disperse traffic.
- Practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands, use hand sanitizer and cover coughs with your elbow.
- Be kind, say hi. The risk of COVID-19 is not at all connected with race, ethnicity, or nationality. Blaming others will not help fight the illness. Do your part to be kind, say hi or wave hello, respect your fellow humans when you are out on the trail in these challenging times. Share smiles!
CPW says it understands there is uncertainty surrounding how long the pandemic will impact people’s lives, so seek experiences that can still be shared while the current outbreak is underway.
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