Opinion | Outdoor activities are essential during the pandemic

While it’s important to remain safe, we shouldn’t let our fear completely isolate us from our everyday enjoyments that we took for granted.


Katie Goodale

Two pedestrians walk downtown on Saturday, April 4, 2020. Downtown was quiet during the first weekend after spring break as classes have been moved online and the bars closed due to coronavirus.

Ally Pronina, Opinions Columnist

Nature is the gravity constantly pulling my feet out the door. I have a pre-existing condition and continue going outside almost every single day. I also went out to dinner with a friend from high school.

My sister had outside city band concerts every Thursday during July. I missed zero. I already miss enough of her concerts and activities when I am in Iowa City.

I am aware people with health problems are at a greater risk of getting COVID-19. I care about my health and those of others in a similar situation as me. I have not completely thrown caution to the wind.

I’m doing school and work remotely. I wear a mask when it is mandated and social distance while in public. That dinner date was the first time I had set foot in a restaurant since February.

While it is important for everyone, especially those who are in the at risks groups, to think about their physical health, mental health should not be forgotten.

A recent study found 25 percent of participants experienced greater depression during lockdown. Another study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, found 20 percent of people with mental illness felt their symptoms worsen in lockdown.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said the rates of death by suicide and overdose have surpassed those by COVID-19 among high schoolers. Depression is also a pre-existing condition. We shouldn’t judge people who go outside to protect themselves from suicide, binge-drinking, and other mental health breakdowns.

Going outside lifts mood for people with and without mental illnesses. While precautions are needed, quarantining shouldn’t get to the point of staring at blank walls, roaming empty halls, and hating life.

The risks I take are to keep myself mentally healthy. Others with pre-existing conditions should not be afraid to do the same. It is a good idea to at least sit on the porch for a couple minutes. Fresh air and sunshine increase vitamin D levels and brain activity, both of which can fight off depression.

Living with a condition, even in non-pandemic times, means being at a greater risk for illnesses.

If I spend every waking moment worrying about every single possible thing I’m at a greater risk for, I would not have much of a quality of life.

I want to take necessary precaution but not to the point of being a prisoner of the anxiety.

The same logic should apply to COVID-19. In all the talk about people with pre-existing conditions being at a greater risk for it, we are overlooking that they have the same emotional needs during quarantine as everyone else.

I need face-to-face interactions. Otherwise, I would start talking to the characters in my books.

I need to continue doing what I love, to the greatest extent possible. I need to see the light at the end of the tunnel and be reminded of how much there is still to feel joyful about. I need a sense of hope and normalcy.

Luckily, thanks to not panicking, I have these things.

I don’t want to protect myself physically by giving up feeling the sunshine in my face or wind in my hair. I rather hear birds chirping by being outside instead of through opened windows.

The earth is still spinning on its axis and will continue doing so as long as there is love, faith, and positivity in the world. In all the madness and disappointment, life goes on. There’s no better reminder of that than an early morning breeze.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.