Medical Examiner

Go for a Walk

You’re allowed. It will help.

A woman on a wooded trail.
A woman on a hiking trail in Hong Kong. Vivek Prakash/Getty Images

Go for a walk. Right now if possible! Tell anyone you might need to tell that you need 15 minutes, put shoes on, and go outside.

Yes, we’re on lockdown. In the San Francisco Bay Area, residents of six counties have orders to shelter in place—New York might see similar orders soon, too—but they can still go for walks and runs and bike rides as long as they stay six feet apart from other people. Yes, you should be following the strict rules of staying home from work (unless you do something essential that cannot be done remotely, like medical care) and skipping visits with friends and loved ones (unless you are a caretaker). But, if you are healthy, if you pick a place and time of day where you can keep your distance from others, you can still go outside. And you should.

The weather doesn’t know anything about the collapsing economy, the closing borders, the counts of beds and masks at hospitals; it is standing by to offer a full break from every impending scenario. In New York, it is currently warm and sunny. In San Francisco, there’s light rain that promises to subside by lunch. In Miami, it’s practically summer! In Idaho Falls, Idaho, it’s foggy, with maybe later some snow showers, with a nice mild high of 45. Make time for a break from the terrible news to check in with what is going on outside in the place you live, too.

We don’t know how long this is going to last—weeks, at least, some predictions are much longer. (Don’t click that link, actually. Don’t think about it, until you’ve gone for a walk.) Exercise is going to be crucial to getting through this, not being cooped up in your home is going to be crucial to getting through this, watching (from a distance!) dogs waddle around like nothing is going on with the economy or ventilator counts is going to be crucial to getting through this.

Here are some other things you can do on your walk: listen to songs that remind you of summer vacation, or to the audiobook version of something you’ve read a thousand times; call your mom; call your college roommate; post pictures of every flower you pass to Instagram. You can even go for a walk with a friend—just stay six feet apart. (A piece of carefully measured string might be the latest group exercise tool.)

Remember that if you are officially quarantined, you’ll need to stay inside. So go for a walk. Right now. This is a pandemic. It is an emergency.