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Physical Activity & Mental Wellness

It’s OK to not feel OK. This is a challenging time for everyone. Creating new routines and rituals, and finding ways to have fun and be active can help to adjust to this new situation.

  • Limit your intake of media. Choose 1 or 2 times a day to update yourself on the latest news so you are not bombarded by a constant stream of negative information.
  • Focus on self-care by enjoying nutritious foods, being physically active and getting enough sleep. Our immune system works best when we take care of ourselves.
  • Assess your substance use. Many people may increase consumption of alcohol or cannabis because of excess stress or boredom. Excessive substance use can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to COVID-19. Check out Canada’s Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines to see if you are at risk.
  • Connect with friends and family over the phone or internet so you don’t feel isolated. Texting doesn’t give the same feeling of connection as seeing someone’s face or hearing their voice. There are lots of digital technologies that can help us connect while still keeping physically distant.
  • Recognize that our moods can shift frequently and it’s normal to be fine one day then not so much the next. Take the time to validate your feelings and practice self-care in a way that supports your mental well-being.

There are people ready to help you.

  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
    • Or text CONNECT to 686868
  • Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Addictions and Mental Health Crisis Line: 1-866-281-2911.
    • Anyone who has questions, needs access to services, or is feeling anxious is encouraged to call the Case workers and counsellors working in close to a dozen rural offices throughout the region are also accessible through these main numbers. In addition, the following services are available:
      • Essential Services remain open including Group Homes, Co-op and Residential Treatment Facilities and Intake Screening.
      • All counselling, including Rapid Access and Case Management continue to take place by telephone.
      • Psychiatry appointments will continue through telephone contact.
      • Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Addictions and Mental Health offices are closed but employees are still working from home.
  • Lanark County Mental Health Mental Health Pandemic Helpline 1-833-283-9979 available Monday–Thursday: 8:00am–8:00pm and Friday 8:00am–4:00pm. This line is for everyone – to offer strategies and supports, without shame or judgement.
  • CMHA’s Mental Health Helpline: 1-866-531-2600
  • Good2Talk for post-secondary students: 1-866-925-5454
    • Or text GOOD2TALKON to 686868
  • A Friendly Voice – A phone line for older adults (55+) who may be feeling lonely or isolated: 1-855-892-9992 (note – this is not a crisis line)
  • Bounce Back phone and online mental health program for adults and youth ages 15 and over
    • Longer term program – needs referral from primary healthcare professional
  • Distress Centre of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville1-800-465-4442
    • Trained volunteers actively listen to your issues, focus in on your concerns and help you problem solve. Available 5:00pm–12:00am (midnight), 7 days a week.
  • If you or someone you know is in danger at home from domestic abuse, you can contact Interval House.
  • Assault Response and Care Centre provides help for anyone affected by sexual assault or domestic violence: 1-800-567-7415

Resources for Children and Youth

Resources for All Ages

The COVID-19 pandemic has added to existing health inequities. This means that COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting the health and well-being of people based on their social determinants of health (e.g., income levels, housing, and experiences of social stigma). A response to COVID-19 that values and prioritizes health equity will support community resilience and well-being today, and into the future. Visit our Health Equity and COVID-19 section for more information.

Physical activity is good for the body, mind and mood, and is especially good at helping us cope with stressful situations and negative feelings.

Be sure to stay COVID-SMART while being physically active!

  • SSelf-isolate if you have symptoms of COVID-19. Consider getting tested.
  • MMask/face covering on when inside enclosed public spaces, and when outdoors in busy public spaces or whenever physical distancing is a challenge.
  • A – Avoid touching your face.
  • R – Remain 2 metres/6 feet apart from people you do not live with.
  • T – Twenty (20) seconds for regular hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette (cough or sneeze into a tissue or your arm).

For people who are NOT self-isolating:

  • Walking outside is good for your body, mind and mood. Go for a walk with people in your household (as long as you are not under quarantine or self-isolation due to illness or exposure). If you choose to walk, find a low populated area and keep your distance from others (2m/6ft). Do not approach animals, and remember to check for ticks and wash your hands when you get home.
  • Enjoy use of parks, beaches and trails that are open but respect signage for areas that are not.
  • Walking outdoors in winter is a great way to get fresh air and exercise. Beware of slippery surfaces. Boot Grippers are available free for those 65+ or $25/pair for those under 65, at your local public library while supplies last.
    • Leeds/Grenville – for more information contact: Vicki Stevenson by email or phone [email protected] 613-359-5334
    • Lanark/Smiths Falls – for more information contact: Jeff Mills by email or phone [email protected] 613-256-1031 ext 263

In addition to being COVID-SMART, here are some other things to think about while being active outdoors or around others:

  • Step aside or pass others quickly and courteously on paths and sidewalks.
  • Use caution if touching shared surfaces (e.g., benches, playground equipment, etc.) that are permitted for use. Practice proper hand hygiene after touching shared surfaces.
  • Avoid:
    • Crowded places. If the park you choose is crowded, consider going to a different recreation space or going back at a different time of day.
    • Activities that involve physical contact.
    • Organized sports that involve large groups (e.g., soccer, baseball, etc.) and touching the same object (e.g., football, volleyball, etc.).
    • Petting other people’s dog(s) or letting other people pet your dog(s).

Individuals have a great responsibility and opportunity to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. Take your personal actions seriously to prevent the spread of the virus and be kind and considerate.

For more information on rules for recreational sports, leagues and facilities – check out the Sports and Recreation tab below.

If you are self-isolating or unable to get outside, there are some great ways to be physically active indoors as well!

  • The YMCA at Home Programs
  • Check with your local fitness or yoga studio – they may have some online options for you.
  • Have a home dance party (even if you are by yourself)
  • Use video games like “Just Dance” or Wii Fit to make physical activity fun for the family!
  • If you are working from home – try to stand up and stretch every 30 minutes and schedule in some breaks.

As of Thursday April 8, 2021, the entire province of Ontario, including the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit (LGLDHU) region, is under a Stay-at-Home Order. This Order requires everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely. This Order is expected to last at least four weeks. The Order and O. Reg. 82/20: RULES FOR AREAS IN STAGE 1 detail what public health precautions must be taken, including what types of businesses/organizations can open and operate and related public health measures. Check our Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework webpage for more information on how the Province’s measures affect the Leeds, Grenville, Lanark area.

This webpage is a guide and does not replace provincial legislation. Ensure you follow the provincial legislation for the region in which you are operating. Refer to O. Reg. 82/20: RULES FOR AREAS IN STAGE 1 (Grey-Lockdown; Shutdown), O. Reg. 263/20: RULES FOR AREAS IN STAGE 2 (Red-Control) and O. Reg. 364/20: RULES FOR AREAS IN STAGE 3 (Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, and Orange-Restrict) for details on what public health precautions must be taken, including what types of businesses/organizations can open and operate and related public health measures. When setting up a league/group, you may want to consider the following:

  • Fewer players per team would allow for more teams in one league, increasing the variety in opponents. This would also allow for greater physical distancing while on the player’s bench.
  • Consider modifying game play to foster greater physical distancing between players (e.g., 3-on-3 hockey; 3-on-3 basketball; 5-on-5 indoor soccer; 7-on-7 outdoor soccer, etc.).
  • To avoid potential issues between Health Unit regions, keep your league within one Health Unit. For example, a municipality could choose to restrict use of their facility to people who live in their Health Unit region only. This would also prevent issues related to restrictions in one region that are different from another region.
  • Consider players only playing in one league at a time. This would help limit the number of close contacts between people.
  • Consider having players play in the Health Unit region that they live in. A municipality could choose to restrict use of their facility to people who live in their Health Unit region only.
  • Have league administrators look at groupings prior to playing a game to make sure no team is left without a partner(s).
  • Review your return to sport plan in order to make improvements based on your experiences from 2020.

IMPORTANT: Leagues/groups of maximum 50 players cannot be periodically reset. Once a league/group is established, a team in that league/group cannot play against a team from a different league/group. This is legislation set by the Province of Ontario. A Health Unit cannot advise otherwise.



  • Complete the COVID-19 self-assessment prior to leaving home. For children under the age of 18, use the COVID-19 school and child care screening tool. Stay home if at least one symptom is present, self-isolate, and consider getting tested at a local assessment centre.
  • Maintain 2 metres physical distancing at all times from people you don’t live with. Only while engaged in sport, the 2 metre distance can be broken, but should be done with caution.
  • Face coverings/masks required to be worn at all times, except to engage in an athletic or fitness activity.


  • Do not share personal items (e.g., water bottle, towel, etc.).
  • Do not spit.
  • Prolonged or deliberate physical contact is prohibited.
  • Players do not count towards gathering limits.
  • Equipment handled by hand or head (e.g., tennis balls, basketballs, soccer balls, etc.) during play should be frequently cleaned.


  • Do not gather indoors or outdoors. If you must, maintain at least 2 metres physical distance and wear a face covering/mask, indoors and outdoors. Children’s sport and recreation activities are often a great social activity for parents/guardians, but greater precautions must be taken to limit the spread of COVID-19 and ensure sport and recreation activities continue to be allowed to be played.
  • Avoid carpooling with people you don’t live with as this can increase the risk of virus transmission.

Coaches and other Team Staff

  • Take attendance of your team at each game/practice. Ensure each player under the age of 18 has completed the COVID-19 school and child care screening tool prior to the game/practice. If the player is 18 years of age or older, they should use the COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Any person with at least one symptom should not enter the facility, self-isolate, and consider getting tested at a local assessment centre. Mark this on the attendance sheet. In the event of a positive COVID-19 case, accurate attendance sheets are critical to help Public Health in contact tracing and follow-up efforts.
  • Avoid the pre-/post-game handshake. Implement alternative sign of respect for opponents.
  • Maximum 50 players per league. Teams are not permitted to play against other teams outside of their league or group. Leagues/groups cannot be periodically reset.
  • Face covering/mask must be worn at all times in an indoor facility. There are exceptions to this, including if the person needs to temporarily remove their face covering/mask while in the indoor area to engage in an athletic or fitness activity. While running a practice, coaches should be wearing a face covering/mask at all times, unless they are actively engaged in an athletic or fitness activity (e.g., demonstrating a drill). A coach may also need to temporarily remove their mask to use a whistle. When watching a drill or explaining a drill with the players in a physically distanced huddle around a whiteboard/chalkboard, a coach must wear their face covering/mask to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. The more vigilant we are with all COVID-19 precautions, the more likely it is that sport and recreation activities can continue.



  • Maximum of 50 players per league (e.g., 3 teams of 15 players, 4 teams of 12 players, 5 teams of 10 players, etc.).
  • Teams must not play against teams outside of their league (e.g., traditional tournaments involving teams from several leagues are prohibited). Leagues/groups cannot be periodically reset.
  • Prolonged or deliberate physical contact is prohibited.
  • Team or individual sports must be modified to avoid physical contact.

League Facilitators/Sports Organizations

  • Sport and recreation organizations (e.g., clubs, associations, leagues, and teams) wishing to book facilities should follow facility protocols and guidelines, as well as establish their own publicly available sport or activity-specific guidelines for the safe return to sport/activity.
  • Those participating in organized activities sanctioned by, or affiliated with, a provincial or national sport organization should refer to and ensure they are also complying with their governing body’s guidelines, assuming they meet or exceed provincial requirements.
  • In your communication with parents/guardians/participants, ensure you clearly share guidelines for completing the COVID-19 self-assessment prior to arriving at a facility. Children under the age of 18 should use the COVID-19 school and child care screening tool. Any person with at least one symptom should not enter the facility, self-isolate, and consider getting tested at a local assessment centre.

Facility Owner/Operator/Staff

Recreation Facilities

  • Examples include gyms, fitness studios, and community centres.
  • Beginning in the Yellow – Protect zone of Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework, there are changes regarding physical distancing requirements, capacity limits, spectator allowances, and other requirements. Check our Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework webpage for more information on how the Province’s measures affect the Leeds, Grenville, Lanark area.
  • A multipurpose facility that can safely accommodate multiple groups within gathering limits (gathering limits can change depending on what level of Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework the Leeds, Grenville, Lanark region is in. Check our Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework webpage for more information on how the Province’s measures affect the Leeds, Grenville, Lanark area) can do so if:
    • Physical distancing of at least 2 metres/6 feet is maintained at all times.
    • Entry and exit points to the different areas of the facility are controlled to avoid close contact between people.
    • There are no shared spaces between the separate areas.
    • Users are not allowed to travel between separate areas.
    • Users arrive shortly before their scheduled sport/recreation time and leave immediately after.
    • Sport/recreation activity times are staggered to limit the number of people at a facility at one time.
    • Indoor example:
      • While maintaining physical distancing of at least 2 metres/6 feet at all times, a community centre with 2 ice pads could have a different activity occurring on each pad, within gathering limits.
    • Outdoor example:
      • While maintaining physical distancing of at least 2 metres/6 feet at all times, a venue with 2 soccer fields and 2 baseball diamonds could have an activity occurring on each field/diamond, within gathering limits.
    • Each facility owner/operator has the ability to choose how they will operate their facility, within provincial legislation.
  • Equipment must be cleaned and disinfected between user sets or at the end of a game.
  • Wherever possible, activities should be re-located to outdoor settings.
  • Indoor facility ventilation system should be operational and appropriate for the activities practiced within. Use the highest efficiency filters possible in the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system. Facility operators may want to consult with an expert in HVAC systems for assistance.
  • Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible; measures to prevent shouting by both instructors and members of the public.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting:
    • Remove loose items (e.g., pens, pamphlets, brochures and other items) that may be touched by multiple people.
    • Any washrooms, locker rooms, change rooms, showers or similar amenities made available to the public must be cleaned and disinfected as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary condition. Read this fact sheet for more on Cleaning and Disinfecting Bathrooms Used by the Public.
    • Any equipment that is rented to, provided to or provided for the use of members of the public must be cleaned and disinfected as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary condition.
    • Commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are sufficient at killing COVID-19. Ensure that the disinfectant you use has an 8-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN). Refer to this Health Canada list of disinfectants with evidence of use against COVID-19. Follow manufacturer’s instructions when using cleaners or disinfectants.
    • Create and follow a cleaning procedure during each shift at the facility.
    • Have proper training for employees on how to protect themselves and visitors, and for those who handle cleaners and disinfectants. Have personal protective equipment (PPE), hand washing facilities, and Safety Data Sheets available and bottles or containers properly labeled.
    • Restrict access to non-essential shared equipment (e.g., vending machine, coffee maker, water fountains and bottle filling stations).
    • Activities must not be practiced or played within the facility if they require the use of fixed structures that cannot be cleaned and disinfected between each use or, where used in a game or practice, at the end of play.
  • Consideration should be given on how to appropriately include or accommodate vulnerable persons such as older adults, those with disabilities and persons with compromised immune systems. Examples include reducing attendance, offering virtual methods of engagement, and dedicating certain rooms/times for those at greater risk.
  • Traffic flow and physical distancing markers should be visible throughout the facility to promote physical distancing.

Additional Resources

*Adapted with permission from the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (originally adapted from Alberta Health).

The best way to help is by staying COVID-SMART and keeping up precautions.

We are all in this together. If you are well and have the ability to volunteer while staying COVID-SMART:

As many people are out of work and in need, community food programs are more important than ever.

COVID-19 has created a lot of fear for many people. In some situations, this fear has led to people being stigmatized or labelled because they have COVID-19, perceived to have it, or because they are a close contact of someone who is positive. This COVID-19 related discrimination is on par with other types such as racism, sexism, and ageism. The effects of stigmatization can be as harmful, or even more harmful, than COVID-19 itself. Not only does it impact the individual, but can impact the greater public. When there is a label or stigma attached, people may be reluctant to get tested for COVID-19 or isolate, for fear of the consequences.

Understanding the facts can help to reduce fear and stigma

  • Individuals who test positive are followed by public health and advised when they can be cleared from self-isolation;
  • Public health staff uses guidelines from the Ministry of Health that are based on available research;
  • People who have mild to moderate symptoms with COVID-19 can stop self-isolating when:
    • They are 14 days past when their symptoms first started; symptoms are resolving and they do not have a fever; or
    • They are 14 days past the date they got tested and they do not have symptoms.
  • Previously, people who tested positive had to have two negative tests, 24 hours apart. Research has found that people with mild and moderate symptoms are not infectious well before the 14 day period is up, so testing is not required;
  • People who are hospitalized and go home have the same clearance as people who have stayed at home. It is only if they stay in hospital or go to a Congregate setting they need to have 2 negative tests.
  • Ministry of Health guidelines state that other arrangements can be made in exceptional circumstances for deemed critical health care workers.

Since COVID-19 is a new virus that our population doesn’t have immunity to yet, anyone has the potential to get it. So be empathic and think about how you would feel if you were treated poorly for having this virus. Kindness and compassion can go a long way, particularly during times of stress and fear.

How can we reduce fear and stigma and promote kindness and compassion?


  • Don’t post or share false information, names or identity of those affected or under isolation/quarantine.
  • Don’t spread fear and panic.
  • Don’t target health care workers or other essential workers – they are there to help you.
  • Don’t judge without knowing the whole story.
  • Don’t address people with COVID-19 as victims. Instead, choose language such as ‘’people recovering from COVID-19”.
  • Don’t attach locations or ethnicities to COVID-19.


  • Acknowledge that everyone is trying to do their best. Appreciate and support the efforts of our essential service and health care workers and their families.
  • Get and share information from credible sources only, such as from the Health Unit, Ontario Ministry of Health, Government of Canada, or the World Health Organization.
  • Think about how your words and actions can impact others.
  • Recognize the things that are within your control to protect yourself and family. Practice physical distancing and hand hygiene, limit close contacts, stay home if sick, and go out for essential reasons only.
  • Be assured that public health follows and isolates people who have COVID-19 and their close contacts.
  • Share positive stories and examples of community kindness.
  • Challenge yourself and others to do random acts of kindness.
  • Accept support from a professional, friend or someone else you trust. For help, check out the “Resources on Coping” section.
  • If you want more information on how to address social stigma and COVID-19, watch this short video.

Seniors may be more vulnerable to both the effects of a COVID-19 infection, as well as the social isolation that comes from these months of physical distancing.

Seniors’ Centres Without Walls offers the opportunity for participants to join in on health and wellness seminars, educational lectures, brain-stimulating activities, listen to live musical entertainment, join in on general conversations, and make new and meaningful friendships – all over the phone from the comfort of home! For more information, contact Rachel Sutcliffe, SCWW Coordinator, at 613-236-0428 extension 2323 or by email at [email protected]

Long-Term Care Home Visits

The Province has expanded visiting in Long-Term Care Homes. Please always call the facility ahead of time to ensure they are able to receive visitors and find out what specific procedures are in place.

  • Outdoor visits
    • Up to 2 people can visit outdoors
    • No COVID-19 test is required for the visitors but visitors will complete a screening questionnaire when they arrive.
    • Face coverings are required (visitors provide their own)
  • Indoor visits
    • Up to 2 people can visit indoors
    • Visitors must attest (verbally confirm) they have tested negative for COVID-19 within the past 2 weeks and will complete a screening questionnaire upon arrival.
    • Surgical/procedure masks must be worn for indoor visits and are provided by the facility.
  • Essential care providers are being allowed back in to care for a resident as well, provided they only care for one resident and abide by any requirements of the home, like use of personal protective equipment.
  • Here is the full document from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Retirement Home Visits

Please always call ahead to schedule your visit to ensure the home is able to receive visitors and to confirm the procedures in place.

  • All visitors will be screened (for symptoms and travel history)
  • Visitors should use a face covering/mask at all times and are responsible for bringing their own
    • Outdoor visits – a cloth face-covering is sufficient
    • Indoor visits – a surgical/procedure mask is required
  • Note: If a retirement residence is co-located with a long-term care home, the more restrictive visitor policies apply
  • Here is the full document from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care