Caregiving in the Time of CoVid-19, #15: Exercising Etiquette


Me and My Mask

If you are trying to take care of yourself, the personal caregiving that is needed during this period of CoVid-19 social distancing, exercise is important. When this period of isolation began I did home aerobics, walked, and occasionally do slow walk-jog interval exercise at the local high school track.

Now, however, the track is closed because too many people came to play sports, ride trikes, and do other activities, so there was no real social distancing. Local bike trails are filled with people trying to get some exercise — walking, running, and biking — so walking there does not feel safe. Thus my exercise now consists of inside aerobics and outside walking around the neighborhood.

There is a kind of etiquette to exercising these days. First of all, I maintain space but always try to smile and say hello when I am walking. I am surprised at the number of people who choose not to respond, even when we make eye contact. For me, taking a moment to connect from eight or ten feet away and say hello feels more necessary than usual during this strange fight against CoVid-19.

Walking in the neighborhood when others are also outside exercising requires decisions to be made. What do you do when you meet people or pass by others? Who moves to establish the correct distance? How far away can you safely go into the street? If a runner seems to be coming up from behind how can you get out of the way, without a collision, so that person does not pass close by on the right or left?  

If I encounter someone coming toward me, I usually make a quick decision to move into the street, curbside, so that person can stay on the sidewalk, though sometimes the other individual beats me to it. I automatically move to the street if the individual is walking a dog or pushing a baby carriage. If I need to pass another walker, I also move into the street. When I hear a runner approaching, however, it’s hard to decide. Interestingly, some people, when they approach me, decide to cross the street or, more enjoyably, at corners we move our hands in different directions, usually with broad smiles, to discern the directions we will be moving.

My more serious challenges are kids on bikes or skateboards, who tend to zip across streets and onto sidewalks with almost no warning, unintentionally coming within a couple of feet of me. Kids, being kids, they probably assume that a quick pass-by isn’t a problem. It feels like one, though, because this is the reason why I am not walking on a trail anymore.

Do I wear a mask during exercise or not? I’ve decided not to wear one, but I carry my face mask and can put it on if the need arises.

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