Opinion: With Shared Spaces, We Can All Move Together Outdoors

Mission Bay Park has close to 14 miles of paths.
A jogger in Mission Bay Park. Photo by Chris Stone

If this past year has demonstrated one thing, it has been our ability to adapt and innovate with through challenging times. Although never easy, we have seen many traditional “indoor” businesses like restaurants pivot to providing a similar, if not better, customer experience outside. The same has been happening in a lesser talked about area—physical activity and fitness.

One of the impacts of the pandemic is the closure of many traditional gyms and studios due to state and local regulations prohibiting or limiting indoor exercise. As a result, thousands of business owners have had to develop creative solutions to open safely and lead exercise sessions outdoors while adhering to public health guidelines.

So, what does that even look like? It looks like the empty park or green space you pass every morning walking your dog.

Livable communities with space for residents to engage in active, healthy lifestyles are considered a cornerstone of public health policy and a key to curbing the obesity and chronic disease epidemics. The conversation often focuses on the infrastructure and ensuring that there are adequate spaces for recreation and activity for residents of the community in the form of parks, schools and sports fields.

As residents of communities seek opportunities to engage in physical activity with others, increasing the number of opportunities available for physical activity and defining who is qualified to lead structured physical activity programs in the community has resulted in a greater focus on, and interest in, “shared use agreements” and its associated permitting models.

Times of San Diego