On March 19, just under a week after I began working from home, I wrote this note to my work colleagues:
I am a long-time exerciser, and I am a long-time fan of the outdoors. But until the past week I don’t think I have ever taken a walk near where I live six days in a row. My wife and I have taken walks after 5:00pm each day. We have taken five different routes to mix it up. We stay six feet away from passersby.
There will be some silver linings that come out of this crazy and terrible situation we are all dealing with, and while I am not going to dwell on silver linings because I don’t want to make light of this, I will share with you: yesterday we walked by two sets of people who were putting their bikes into their cars after having taken rides in an area near where I live. One said to the other, “I love yoga and I go to a gym for other exercise, but all that is closed now and I forgot how much I like to exercise outdoors.” Sounds like that will be a new habit for him.
I also am a big “it could be worse” person and, again, while I don’t want to make light of any of this, the fact that the weather has been very nice, and going to keep getting nicer, and the fact that it’s daylight savings time, means we can all get out for a walk after work; or midday as part of a “lunch” break; or early morning
Self-care is key at all times. Especially now. Be healthy and stay well.
A bunch of people replied to me:
“For real, David. I’ve lost 3 lb this week from taking rigorous walks pushing my 4 year old in a stroller. We haven’t put her in the stroller in about a year. In my parts there is no “easy stroll” as there are basically 45 degree hills everywhere – so pushing 42 lbs up these hills is giving me a GREAT workout. Doing a short yoga session and headspace every morning is keeping this gal sane.”
“Great advice, David. My 16 year old son and I have decided to dust off dad’s P90X DVDs and do some evening workouts together. Too early for silver linings but a little father/son exercise time may be as good as this situation will allow for.”
“Thanks for sharing that. I totally agree with everything you said. I get outside every chance I get and I think a lot of people don’t realize what being outside does for our mental health. The more this message gets repeated, the stronger we will stay.”
“Thank you for the bright words. I too have been taking walks… Walking is helping me keep a handle on my emotions and worrying.”
“Well said. Well taken. My wife and I have found our walks to be the daily elixir as well, taking time to exhale, note the forsythia, daffodils, etc. I’d also add just one other notable silver lining, which I’m speculating you also share… connecting with people – family, friends, strangers during daily walks, phone, FaceTime, texts, etc. in a materially different way; more thoughtful, attentive, caring… desiring to connect. How awesome if that could continue to some degree after this phase becomes an entry in the history books.”
“Totally agree! My dog is getting more exercise than ever!!”
“Hi David. I am (taking walks as substitution) for my morning and evening walks from and to the bus station and office – and yes the flowers are lovely – plus I have a dog – so extra outings, but when I do the serious walking she stays home – too much sniffing!!”
Four weeks have gone by since my note and I have now taken a walk 33 of the past 34 days – the exception was one day when it was pouring. I have mostly gone with my wife, sometimes alone. We have taken 10 different routes to mix it up. It has become easier to stay at least six feet away from passersby because nearly everyone has bought into the importance of social distancing.
I hope you’ve been getting outside for fresh air and exercise. It’s good for your physical and mental health, which is more important than ever during a health crisis.