Outdoor Activities Associated with Lower Odds of SARS-CoV-2 Acquisition: A Case-Control Study

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 May 18;19(10):6126. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19106126.


Access to recreational physical activities, particularly in outdoor spaces, has been a crucial outlet for physical and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a need to understand how conducting these activities modulates the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection. In this case-control study of unvaccinated individuals conducted in San Francisco, California, the odds of testing positive to SARS-CoV-2 were lower for those who conducted physical activity in outdoor locations (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 0.16, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.05, 0.40) in the two weeks prior to testing than for those who conducted no activity or indoor physical activity only. Individuals who visited outdoor parks, beaches, or playgrounds also had lower odds of testing positive to SARS-CoV-2 (aOR: 0.28, 95% CI: 0.11, 0.68) as compared with those who did not visit outdoor parks, beaches, or playgrounds. These findings, albeit in an unvaccinated population, offer observational data to support pre-existing ecological studies that suggest that activity in outdoor spaces lowers COVID-19 risk.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; outdoor activity; outdoor parks; transmission.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Parks, Recreational
  • SARS-CoV-2*

Grants and funding

This work was supported by Genentech Foundation.