WINNIPEG -- The COVID-19 pandemic has made it tough to break a sweat, but that isn't stopping some Winnipeggers from getting some fresh air.

With gyms closed, sports on hold, and winter fast approaching, Winnipeggers don't have many options for recreational activity.

Enjoying the above seasonal temperatures at the Charleswood Off-Leash Dog Park, Kim and Raj Sran chose to get some exercise with their dog Archie.

"We find getting fresh air refreshes our brain and gives us a break, so (the dog park) has kind of been our thing," said Kim Sran.

She said going for walks in the dog park is one of the few activities left available during lockdown.

"We used to go to The Forks and stuff, but at this point with the options limited, you can't meet your friends at The Grove anymore, so stuff like this kind of keeps us sane," said Sran.

Matthew Ponech took his dog, Rosie, for a walk in the park too.

He said with winter approaching and COVID-19 restrictions in place, staying active is important.

"I'm a big believer in exercise and the outdoors in terms of mental health," said Ponech. "I think getting out and exercising, getting outdoors, getting some fresh air, I think that just helps."

Shaelyn Strachan, an associate professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management at the University of Manitoba, said with the lockdowns in place and the days getting shorter, exercise is a good way to preserve your mental health.

"There's pretty reliable research, review studies that show exercise is at least as effective as some anti-depressant medication for treating people with depression," Strachan said.

She said exercise is also effective at preventing people from becoming depressed.

People like Whitney Johnson, who was going for a Sunday afternoon run in Assiniboine Park.

She said it's difficult to stay motivated during a COVID winter, but exercise makes her feel good.

"As far as like mental health is concerned, it really helps me personally to get out and move," said Johnson. "You can get pretty cloistered in your own home."

A sentiment echoed by Kim and Raj Sran.

"It'll make you feel better, especially with the weather, make use of it," said Raj Sran. "Once we hit the 30 below stuff, it's going to be tough."