Staying healthy — and active — not easy these days

By Charlie Johnson, Staff Writer

Our world has been tremendously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and a big reason why it is affecting us is because it has taken many leisure activities and shut them down to a point where they may never return. Places such as bowling alleys, movie theaters, fitness centers, and amusement parks have struggled from the loss of customers, revenue. They have faced  shortened schedules and closures due to the pandemic. The coronavirus has changed our routines, altered the way we go out in public, and taken many lives these past eight months and we need to be aware of the risks we are taking when doing recreational activities.

Recreation is defined as an activity done for enjoyment when one is not working, meaning entertainment, relaxation, pleasure and many more. Kylie Mahoney, who studies Public Relations at DePaul University, has some advice that communities and businesses should consider when making decisions for recreational purposes.

“A lot of the times in very large groups such as parties at colleges or others things like that where people are having concerts, you don’t necessarily know every single person who is there,” Mahoney said,  “so you don’t know what they have been doing or following safety guidelines or not so to be that close around that many people can be very dangerous. What if they have not worn a mask? Or what if they are around a lot of people all the time? Then they could have COVID and you would not know so it is not safe to be around people where you don’t know what they are doing on a daily basis to stay safe.”

Fitness centers and gyms have had a rough time getting business as it is  such a high risk for many customers that pay for memberships. Mahoney thinks these businesses can do some things to make customers more comfortable.

“ I think that they should definitely lower the capacity of people they allow in at a time and that could even mean they can extend hours so that people can still go, even if it is at 10 p.m.” she said.  “People can still go but in smaller groups to maintain social distancing and I think either increasing staff or assigning a staff member specifically for cleaning would be important so that they could stay by the equipment and soon as they see someone is finished using something, it could be cleaned immediately and also making sure someone is by the front door watching and counting how many people come in and out.”

As for her own recreational activities Mahoney said: “I really like to paint and that is kind of something I do if I am either stressed or feeling any anxiety, it is a good way for me to express my creativity and distract myself from anything that is bothering me as it serves as a good outlet.

“Exercise is also more important now than ever I believe because I know a lot of people, especially one of my grandmothers, she used to always just go out to the store to walk around for exercise and it is harder to do that because a lot of gyms are closed or not allowing many people entry. Whatever you can do at home, whether it is walking around the house a few times or trying to stay in shape can be very stress-relieving and it is important to stay healthy during everything going on now.”

Mahoney says besides one family gathering of about 15 people, she has avoided.  “There were some people wearing masks and some were not, it is really hard being around family members you haven’t seen in a while and not being able to give them a hug,” she said.

Safety, social distancing guidelines and sanitation have made it possible for people to go out and enjoy their day without being in harm’s way. The more we are aware of the risks, the faster recreational events and settings can be working better and safer than they were before the virus came into fruition.