OAKLAND, CALIF. - In California under the state’s shelter in place rule, people outside of a family are ordered to stay 6 feet from each other.
That means exercise, which is critical to many people’s physical and mental well-being, is a challenge. Exercising outdoors with others has become an avoidance dance, since we are both potential victims and potential vectors of disease.
Think through the normal outdoor activities and you start to see potential problems.
Walking is fine, but you have to pick places that don’t have narrow paths or else you run into others. Playing soccer may be OK, or tennis, if the parties involved arrive and leave separately. But then again, what about touching the ball?
And one thing has become certain: If you exercise the wrong way in this time of COVID-19, chances are someone will criticize your behavior on social media. Maybe with photos.
Running permitted but no spitting
One fine day, a lot of people flocked to the parks, playgrounds and beaches around here. The authorities had to shut them down. The areas were so crowded, health officials worried people couldn’t — or wouldn’t — stay 6 feet apart.
Running in the streets with a friend, as I do a few times a week, takes some maneuvering. We run in the streets with our dogs, watching for cars.
A woman shouted out at me today from her porch, telling me I was running correctly with my friend. We know. Our dogs’ leashes are 6 feet long. We think about that 6-foot distance all the time.
Biking is permitted, but you are not supposed to bike into another county, presumably because you become that county’s problem if things go wrong. A bike accident will likely send me to the emergency room, where there will be more of a chance of exposure to the coronavirus. I almost think I shouldn’t bike.
Learning to Zumba
Like a lot of people, I’ve turned to online classes to do some indoor exercising. My gym instructor is teaching muscle toning and Zumba over Zoom, the video chat software program. I’m terrible at Zumba. I don’t know how to dance hip-hop, salsa, samba, tango or anything else. In the pre-coronavirus days, I’d stand in the back of the class and try to keep up.
But I am inspired to keep moving. I can see all the other people in their chat windows moving their bodies, flailing their arms like me in the wrong moments. I can always turn off the video so they can’t see me. But it doesn’t really matter. We are here together getting a little exercise and trying to be safe.