Pediatrician encourages families to get outdoors and play amid pandemic

MADISON, Wis. — During the COVID-19 pandemic, public health leaders leaders have been telling us we’re safer at home. But families are also encouraged to get outdoors and stay active.

SSM Health pediatrician Dr. Dan Beardmore said the risk of contracting coronavirus is much lower when you’re outside than it is when you’re inside or in a large crowd.

“The way in which you catch this illness is by being talked at, coughed on, sneezed in the direction of. So if you’re outside at a state park hiking and you’re following closely behind someone who’s coughing and sneezing, yea, you could catch it that way. But otherwise outdoor activities are really low risk,” said Beardmore.

Beardmore is encouraging families to get out and bike, hike and play, but also while staying safe from injuries not involving the virus — like head injuries. He said if you’re on wheels, whether it’s a skateboard, roller blades or a bike, you should have a helmet on.

“We’re not just talking about scrapes and hairline fractures, though both could be very bad. We’re talking about your brain. And your brain is an important organ, one of our two most important organs. The effects of a concussion can be serious, and can be long lasting,” said Beardmore.

Overall, he wants families to get outside and believes the vitamin D and fresh air will help both parents and kids emotionally and physically, since a lot of us need a change of scenery after being cooped up inside for months.

“As the school years are ending and virtual school is coming to a close finally, and kids and parents alike are exhausted by what we’ve been going through for the last nearly three months, I think it’s a really, really great idea to get back out there,” said Beardmore.