As of 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21, 70 Maine residents have been confirmed positive for the coronavirus, according to the state. Click here for the latest coronavirus news, which the BDN has made free for the public. You can support this mission by purchasing a digital subscription.
As gyms and yoga studios close in response to the spread of COVID-19, people are left to find new ways to stay active and meet their fitness goals — away from crowds.
For people who are used to exercising in a group setting, this might be entirely new territory. Yet social distancing is one of the key measures people can take to slow the spread of the disease and stay safe. It’s important. But if you aren’t showing symptoms of the virus and have no reason to think you’ve been exposed, social distancing doesn’t mean you have to stay cooped up inside, sitting on your couch.
At a time when stress levels are high and maintaining good health is a top priority, committing to daily exercise is more important than ever. In addition to maintaining your overall fitness level, exercise causes you to release endorphins, which are chemicals in your brain that naturally fight pain and stress, and help you feel more positive and energized.
So here are some fun and creative ways to exercise while practicing social distancing.
Explore a local trail network
Public trails for activities such as hiking, skiing, biking and jogging can be found throughout the state. In fact, there may be more trails in your area than you think.
While you’ll usually enjoy plenty of personal space while on public trails, take care to give any other trail users wide berth. If the trailhead parking is crowded, consider visiting another trail.
Finding trails can be tricky, partly because they’re owned and maintained by such a variety of entities. One resource for finding trails is the BDN 1-Minute Adventure map, which provides information and videos on more than 300 trails throughout Maine.
Town-owned or city-owned trails and parks can often be found listed on the town’s or city’s official website. Also, most places in Maine have a local land trust, which is an organization that conserves land and often maintains trails for the public. You can search for land trusts by county at Maine Land Trust Network.
The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands manages 48 state park and historic sites, as well as a number of public lands that also feature trails. Online, you can search for these by region or activity. Plus the National Park Service and large organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and Appalachian Mountain Club maintain trails throughout the state.
You may also be able to find trails at your area school or university. Some of Maine’s fish hatcheries even maintain trails. The list goes on and on. So go check out your area trails. Check them off a list, one by one. Get outside and get moving.
Get to know your local roads
Walking or jogging along the side of the road is one of the simplest ways to get outside and get some exercise. And as the weather warms, melting away the ice and snow, these routes are becoming a lot clearer and less slippery.
But don’t forget mud season. If you live on gravel roads, things might be a little messy out there, but it’s nothing a good pair of waterproof boots can’t handle.
This may be a more pleasant experience if you live on quiet roads. Also, remember to wear bright, reflective clothing and walk on the proper side of the road — against oncoming traffic. Also, give any other walkers or runners a wide berth.
Take your bike for a spin on paved surfaces
In early spring, it’s usually too soupy on forest trails and gravel roads for bicycles. In fact, many trails — such as Acadia’s carriage roads — are closed to bikes in the spring so the soft surfaces aren’t damaged by bike tires. But there are other places you can go for a spin during this time of year.
Paved trails and roads are perfect for biking in early spring. In fact, the snow and ice tend to melt away from these dark surfaces fairly quickly as the days lengthen and the weather warms. Several paved trails can be found along rivers in Maine, including Bangor’s Waterfront Trail, the Brewer Riverwalk, Bucksport Waterfront Walkway and the Michael Michaud Walking and Biking Trail in Millinocket.
Try yoga at home
Yoga is a stress-reducing activity that doesn’t require any special equipment. Having a yoga mat is nice, but you can also simply use a carpet for padding.
Finding free yoga instruction online is easy. Some Maine yoga studios, such as Eden Yoga Shala in Bar Harbor, have announced plans to start providing lessons online as a replacement for their in-person classes. You can also check out popular YouTube channels such as Yoga with Tim and Yoga With Adriene, which have playlists of different yoga sessions so you can mix it up and do something different every day. Once you get a hang of it, you can try developing your own yoga routine and haul your mat outside to do it in the sun.
For those with snow, embrace it
In northern Maine and the western mountains of the state, there’s still plenty of snow, but it won’t be there for long. Spring is coming, so if you live in those regions, take the opportunity to get in a few final outings on your cross-country skis or snowshoes.
Fly a kite
See a windy day in the weather forecast? That’s a great opportunity to fly a kite. This outdoor activity is nostalgic, carefree and fun, especially if you’re entertaining kids. It’s also a great activity to practice social distancing, since you don’t want to be standing close to anyone when working with a kite.
Flying a kite may seem like a fairly sedentary activity, but you may be surprised how much you end up sprinting to launch the kite into the air and keep it there. Just pick an open area, like a field, and give it a try.
Try virtual geocaching
Geocaching is a worldwide game in which people use GPS coordinates to find small hidden containers. These containers contain a logbook for you to sign. They also often contain “swappables,” which are items that people are free to take as long as they replace it with an item of equal or greater value. Because the new coronavirus can live on surfaces for a few days, this activity — in which you’re picking up containers that other people may have recently touched — isn’t the best idea right now. But there are other options.
Virtual caches and EarthCaches are types of geocaches that are locations rather than containers. All you have to do is use GPS coordinates to find each location, then log it online or using a mobile app. The cache may also require you to take a photo or answer a question about the location as proof that you really traveled there. And while virtual caches can be of any location, an EarthCache is specifically designed to provide an earth science lesson. A short written lesson about the location is provided online by the creator of the EarthCache.
While Maine isn’t home to many virtual caches, we have plenty of EarthCaches. In fact, a cliff called Lover’s Leap in Bangor, is the location of an EarthCache. To learn more and search for virtual caches and Earthcaches near you, visit geocaching.com and sign up for free. Use the filters in the search tool to specifically search for EarthCaches and virtual caches.
Waymarking is very similar to virtual geocaching. It’s an activity that requires you visit and log different locations using GPS coordinates and written directions. These waypoints are categorized, so you can theme your adventure. The categories can be pretty specific. Examples include U.S. Historic Survey Stones and Monuments, U.S. Benchmarks and Zinc Headstones. To learn more and start searching for waymarks, visit waymarking.com.
Whatever activities you choose, remember that social distancing doesn’t mean you should stop communicating with people. In fact, if you plan to visit a trail network or any other outdoor destination to exercise on your own, it’s important that you tell a loved one exactly where you’re going and when you plan to return. That way, if something goes wrong — say you twist an ankle — that person will know where to start searching.
Also, it may be helpful to make exercise goals with your friends or family, and to regularly check in with them, sharing photos and achievements through social media or by phone. So while you may choose to work out on your own these days, you can still be motivated by the people you know who are doing the same thing.