Getting outside helps many of us cope with pandemic-related stress. SMGOR doctors are here to help recommend some safe ways to cope and enjoy our surroundings.

SMGOR Cardiologist, Ian Riddock, MD, weighs in. As we all know, when winter approaches, the days get shorter and colder. It’s imperative to resist the urge to stay cocooned inside even if pandemic restrictions compel us to do just that. You can be safe while engaging in a variety of activities – the best strategy for lifelong fitness geared towards longevity.

Increasing your heart rate for short bursts of time – or high intensity interval training – coupled with lower intensity and longer duration activity such as brisk walking, can be all that is needed to maximize longevity goals. Fortunately, even during a pandemic, Central Oregon is full of outdoor activities ideally suited for these purposes. You may not be able to hit the slopes as you did last year, but now is the time to check out something new or find enjoyment again in abandoned activity. For instance, snow shoeing is a great way to find solitude out in nature, raise that heartrate as you conquer a hill and then sustain a lower zone of exertion as you explore a new trail. With limited downhill opportunities, cross country skiing, offers a great escape and a perfect self-paced exercise while embracing the winter wonderland in solidarity—An activity naturally suited for a pandemic!

Finally, one of the activities I enjoy the most is going for a run or hike after a fresh snow fall. Armed with supplemental shoe traction, gaiters and plenty of layers, this is a winter activity I look forward to and again, it typically involves less people so social distancing is not an issue. Also, there’s no pressure to run at a particular pace. It’s just you, fresh new snow, and beads of sweat.


SMGOR Family Medicine Specialist, Dausen Harker, MD, suggests you go for a walk around your neighborhood or on the scenic Deschutes River Trail. Be sure to take a mask with you and try to stay at least 6 feet away from others. Be friendly without getting too close. You can walk on the other side of the street, but there’s no reason you can’t wave hello as you pass people. Seek out activities that lend themselves to social distancing, i.e. golf, tennis, pickle ball, etc. Just be sure to use hand sanitizer or wash your hands before and after. For the more adventurous, cross country skiing is an excellent winter outdoor activity that lends itself well to social distancing. For those families with young children or people with limited mobility, low key activities like walking the paved trail through Drake Park, in Bend, or Dry Canyon Park, in Redmond, are a few great options to consider.