It’s been a challenging few weeks for everyone, but if exercise is a major part of your lifestyle, it’s been challenging for you in another way. With all the gyms closed in response to COVID-19, many people are looking for ways to stay active and maintain a little bit of their routine during this time.

If you have some space in your living room, you can do at-home workouts via your favorite apps or YouTube channels. However, there’s another great way to stay fit while enjoying our beautiful outdoors: trail running, hiking, and walking.

The Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

Getting outside for a hike, trail run, or even some calisthenics on the lawn is good for more than cardiovascular fitness. The American Council on Exercise says outdoor exercise can boost your mood, reduce your risk of depression, and improve your self-esteem. Harvard Health mentions that studies have shown spending time in nature lowers stress. Hiking or running on uneven trails also challenges your balance and core strength—not to mention your leg strength as you power up those hills!

Where to Go Trail Running in North Carolina

North Carolina is full of beautiful trails! Unfortunately, too many people have been congregating in parks and other public areas despite current guidelines regarding social distancing during COVID-19. North Carolina State Parks has been forced to close many parks and trails during this time, and they are updating the list of closures on their website. Check the site or call before you head out.

However, any trail not listed as closed is still open and available for your use. For example, Carolina Beach State Park just south of Wilmington is currently open, and it features nine miles of hiking trails. About 15 miles of hiking trails are open at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area outside of Raleigh. Near Greensboro, Haw River State Park has several miles of trails, too.

After things get back to normal, North Carolina State Parks will continue to be a great resource for trail maps and information. American Trails offers more information about trails all around the country, as well as info about the benefits of trails and what you can do to help protect them.

Staying Safe Outdoors During COVID-19

On March 27, Governor Ray Cooper issued a state-wide Stay at Home Order. This means that all North Carolina residents should stay home except to perform essential activities as outlined in the order. The order does leave room for outdoor exercise, as this is an important way to take care of your physical and mental health at this time—and always.

Follow these guidelines to stay safe while trail running and hiking during the pandemic:

  • Go alone or with the people who live in your house. Do not go on group runs.
  • Try to go at a time when there aren’t likely to be as many people on the trails, like early in the morning.
  • If you meet someone along the way, allow at least six feet of space between you. This may mean stopping and stepping off the trail to allow someone to pass.
  • Respect closures of restrooms, playgrounds, etc.
  • Do not exercise (or go out at all) if you’re sick.

As always, you should choose the appropriate footwear for your run or hike. At Omega Sports, we’re practicing social distancing, too—but we’re still here for you online! For all your active play needs, we make it MEGA easy and rewarding to shop online, and we’ll ship your order directly to your home. Stay active and healthy, and enjoy your time on North Carolina’s trails.