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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Virtual Science Pub on April 30 Will Focus on Outdoor Exercise During the Pandemic

By Joe Garvey

Science Pubs are known for showing off the creativity of Old Dominion University's faculty and researchers.

Now Science Pubs organizers will have to display their creativity for the next event.

The 5-year-old program has spotlighted faculty research in a casual setting - usually one of Hampton Roads' breweries. But now it's going online.

"Outdoor Exercise, Recreation, and School-Time Physical Education: The Impact of COVID-19"is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 30. It will be conducted using the Zoom platform. Folks are asked to RSVP by April 29 and will be emailed a Zoom link. Questions will be handled using the Zoom chat function.

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way individuals and families throughout the world participate in exercise, leisure, physical education and outdoor recreation. Four faculty members from the Department of Human Movement Sciences in the Darden College of Education and Professional Studies - Chris A.B. Zajchowski, assistant professor of park, recreation & tourism studies; J. Kyle Davis, lecturer of exercise science; Yilun Zhou, assistant professor of sport management; and Justin Haegele, assistant professor of health & physical education - will discuss the science behind outdoor exercise during a national health crisis, dynamics of family leisure during quarantine, impacts of a lack of school-time physical education for youth, including those with disabilities, and ways to navigate the patchwork of municipal, state, and federal guidelines for outdoor recreation.

"With Gov. Northam's stay-at-home order, why is outdoor exercise and recreation the exception?" Davis said. "How is exercise a pillar of health and a vital combatant of COVID-19? We will discuss the science behind exercise and the positive effects that help with prevention, not only of contracting COVID-19, but the unintended negative health effects that come from quarantine."

Zhou noted that though individuals no longer can enjoy leisure participation with many of their usual social groups, many adults are spending more time with their young children and college students.

"What are the leisure and sport opportunities for families in the current situation, and how might these opportunities enhance the relationship dynamics within families?" Zhou said. "What are some of the features of childhood, adolescence and emerging adulthood that parents may need to be aware of when dealing with the increased companionship of children during this time?"

Haegele is concerned about the barriers to physical activity that students - especially those with disabilities - may face during the pandemic.

"Schools and teachers are scrambling to develop and implement distance-learning practices to engage students in a meaningful context," he said. "Given the marginalized nature of physical education, students' physical activity and health may be secondary considerations in these efforts."

Zajchowski wonders about the intersection ofpublic health guidelines with safe and responsible participation in outdoor recreation.

"Gov. Northam's initial stay-at-home order permitted visitation to municipal, state and national parks, public beaches, golf courses and other outdoor recreation sites," he said. "During this pandemic, these areas are seeing more visitors than ever before, which poses health risks to park and recreation staff and visitors."

Audience members will also have to get creative for this Science Pub - they'll need to supply their own beverages.

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