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Does “Shelter In Place” Mean We Can’t Go Outside to Exercise?

Does “Shelter In Place” Mean We Can’t Go Outside to Exercise?

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…..about “Sheltering In Place” and getting outside for a walk or exercise.

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, because of the coronavirus, we have been told to “Shelter in Place”.  What if I need to get outside for a walk or exercise? Is that alright?

A:  With all the changes taking place right now, that is a very good question.  The answer was actually publish in the St. Patrick’s Day edition of the East Bay Times.

The article says, “Yes, you’re not going to get cited if you set foot outside for some much needed fresh air.  You can go on a walk or exercise or take a pet to do its thing outside – as long as you maintain good social distancing practices and stay at least 6 feet from any other person”.

We all need to do our part to help end this virus. Being World Walk To Wellness - Social Distancing-two people giving elbow bumps instead of hugssure to stay a safe distance from other people is a simple way that we can stay healthy.  No hand shakes or hugs for now.  We also want to remember that our health affects the health of others, including people who may have a compromised immune system.

As we “Shelter In Place” we will still get out on Saturday mornings for our walks but we will be careful to practice our social distancing.


Avoid getting the new strain of coronavirus

Avoid getting the new strain of coronavirus

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…..about Coronavirus

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, thanks for the tips you shared last week about how to avoid getting the new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) that is in all the news.  Now it seems to be getting more serious here in the USA.  Any further advice?

A:  Yes, it does seem closer to home now. Some of us have received copies of a letter written by James Robb, MD, a pioneering pathologist and physician.  Here’s what he had to say about preventing spread of disease:

“Dear Colleagues,

“As some of you may recall, when I was a professor of pathology at the University of California San Diego, I was one of the first molecular virologists in the world to work on the coronaviruses (the 1970s).  I was the first to demonstrate the number of genes the virus contained.  Since then, I have kept up with the coronavirus field and its multiple clinical transfers into the human population (e.g., SARS, MERS), from different animal sources.

“Here is what I have done and the precautions I take and will take.  These are the same precautions I currently use during our influenza season, except for the mask and gloves.

“1) NO HANDSHAKING!  Use a fist bump, slight bow, elbow bump, etc.

“2) Use ONLY your knuckle to touch light switches, elevator buttons, etc.  Lift the gasoline dispenser with a paper towel or use a disposable glove.

“3) Open doors with your closed fist or hip – do not grasp the handle with your hand unless there is no other way to open the door.  Especially important on bathroom and post office/commercial doors.

“4) Use disinfectant wipes at the stores when they are available, including wiping down the handle and child seat in grocery carts.

“5) Wash your hands with Ask Mr Pedometer About avoiding the coronavirus - pic of person washing handssoap for 10-20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60%alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever you return home from ANY activity that involves locations where other people have been.

“6) Keep a bottle of sanitizer available at each of your home’s entrances AND in your car for use after getting gas or touching other contaminated objects when you can’t immediately wash your hands.

“7) If possible, cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard.  Use your elbow only if you have to.  The clothing on your elbow will contain infectious virus that the can be passed on for up to a week or more!”

Next week, we will share Dr. Robb’s suggestions for preventative supplies, including some you may never have thought of to avoid getting the coronavirus.


Prevent Getting Coronavirus

Prevent Getting Coronavirus

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…Help to Prevent Getting Coronavirus

March 3, 2020

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, the new strain of coronavirus is in all the news.  Any advice on how to prevent getting this illness, for which there currently is no vaccine?

A:  As of last Sunday, newscasters reported that there are over 80,000 cases of COVID-19 in 60 different countries around the world, and nearly 3,000 people have died from it.

Last night’s update reported that there were only 91 known cases in the USA, ranging from no symptoms to mild symptoms, to severe illness requiring hospitalization. Six death had been reported between California and Washington State.  Travel restrictions have been implemented to try to prevent further spread of contagion.  Countries with far more cases of the Coronavirus, like Italy, have advised anyone over age 65 to avoid being in crowds, since older people – especially those with other health issues – have been hardest hit.

National and local health officials have offered the same preventative advice that they do for the more common flu:

  • WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY – Use soap and water for Pic of person washing their hands with soap and water20 seconds – that’s about how long it takes  to sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” TWICE – or take along hand sanitizer if you will not have easy access to water.
  • COUGH OR SNEEZE CAREFULLY into your elbow (or into a tissue that you dispose of immediately, and then wash your hands…again).
  • AVOID TOUCHING YOUR FACE, nose, or eyes with unwashed hands.  And shaking hands may be a thing of the past, at least for now.
  • KEEP YOUR DISTANCE – Since transmission between people is most often by sneezing or coughing, which can spray 3-6 feet, try to keep 6 feet away from others when possible.  Some American corporations have begun canceling conferences.  Some people are choosing to avoid non-essential air travel.
  • IF YOU ARE ILL, STAY HOME (PLEASE!) – Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing.  For the sake of yourself and others, if you begin feeling ill, stay at home until at least 24 hours after the fever has ended.  Testing gradually is becoming more widely available; your doctor can decide if you should be tested.  Call ahead before visiting a medical facility to describe your symptoms, in case you need to be isolated from other patients.

Most of these suggestions are good practices even in times with no threat of a pandemic.  Health officials say that they are hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.



Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor Air Pollution

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…about Indoor Air Pollution


Q:  Mr. Pedometer, is indoor air pollution a real heath problem?

A: Indoor air pollution can be a health problem, particularly in wintertime.  The Consumer Reports on Health ( shared these ideas about how to stay healthier:

  • VENT YOUR COOKING RANGE – “…The process of cooking food can also pollute your air.  But using your range hood, as long as it vents to the outdoors, can significantly reduce the amounts of pollutants you’re exposed to indoors, according to a 2014 study.”

  • KEEP FILTERS CLEAN – “If you use a forced-air cooling and heating system, using the right filter and changing it regularly (based in manufacturers’ recommendations) are key to keeping the air in your home clean.”

  • CONSIDER AN AIR PURIFIER – “Don’t have central heating and air?  A portable air purifier can also pull dust and smoke from the air.  Be sure to buy one designed for the size of the room in which you’ll be placing it.”
  • LEAVE THE FIREPLACE UNIT UNLIT – Ask Mr Pedometer and Friends about indoor air pollution - pic of an unused fireplaceA crackling fire might feel festive, but its smoke can pollute home air.  It’s best to use your in-home heating to keep warm”

  • BAN SMOKING – “Keep cigarette smoke out of your house – it’s a major polluter of indoor air.  Even the emissions from e-cigarettes may expose bystanders to heavy metals and other harmful substances, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.

  • USE THE RIGHT VACUUM – “Vacuuming regularly can help with certain allergies, like those to dust mites.  But some vacuums can worsen indoor air, stirring up dust that can contain allergens and harmful particles.  A vacuum with a HEPA filter can help you avoid this pitfall.”

I hope these suggestions can help you combat indoor air pollution and help you stay healthy this winter.  And don’t forget that you can enjoy rain-rinsed winter air by going outdoors to take a walk.


Walking-The Real Benefits

Walking-The Real Benefits

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…..about Walking

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, its winter. It’s cold outside, and frequently gray.  Tell me again why I should get out of bed on a Saturday morning to walk with you?

A: You’ll feel better if you do.  Don’t just take my word for it:  Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., the author of a new book entitled The Joy of Movement, offered these good reasons in the January edition of Spry (

  • IT’S A STRESS-BUSTER – “… A 25-year-old study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found physical activity (walking) to be the most effective way to improve your mood. It beat eating, sleeping, and talking with friends.  ‘While it doesn’t eliminate stress, it does help us handle it with greater hope and calm. Plus, it tends to shift our mood toward a more positive outlook.’”

  • IT HELPS US CONNECT – “When exercising, World Walk To Wellness the brain releases chemicals, such as endorphins and endocannabinoids, which increase the pleasure we take from connecting with others,’ McGonigal says. ‘If you want to strengthen a relationship, take a walk  If you want to form new friendships, find a place where you can move with others.  If you struggle with social anxiety, regular exercise can make it easier and more enjoyable to spend time with others.’”


    Physical activity is already linked to better brain health, and McGonigal says that regular exercise (walking) can not only protect against Alzheimer’s disease but also strengthen the brain’s reward system. ‘This can relieve depression and make you better able to experience everyday pleasures,’ she says.


    Being active with a group boosts the “feel-good” effect of movement more than exercising alone. “After being physically active with a group, people feel more optimistic, more hopeful, and more connected to others.”

So, less stress and/or depression, improved relationships, and increased happiness…isn’t that worth getting up and out for a walk?



Weight Loss…the elusive goal

Weight Loss…the elusive goal


Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…about Losing Weight and Obesity


Q:  Mr. Pedometer, am I the only one who repeats the same resolution for each New Year — namely, to lose weight?

A: Nope!  That very well may be the most common item on people’s lists of New Year’s Resolutions. Losing weight seems Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends about weight loss and obesity - scale and measuring tapelike a more elusive goal as we age.  However, it is an important one.  A recent newspaper article by Sandee LaMotte of CNN gave a dire prediction. It stated that half of Americans will be obese within a decade unless major changes are made.

The prediction is based on an article recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.  The study analyzed 26 years if Body Mass Index (BMI) data from over 6 million American adults.  The researchers concluded that by 2030, 1 in 4 Americans will have “a body mass index over 35. This means they will be more than 100 pounds overweight.”  That implies huge health and economic repercussions.

“In all 50 states, at least 35% of the population will be obese, the study found.” Hardest hit are 29 states, mostly in the Midwest and South, where the prediction is that 50% of their residents will be considered obese. Sub-populations most at risk for severe obesity include “women, non-Hispanic black adults, and low-income adults who make less than $50,000 per year.”  For adults “with less than $20,000 annual household income, severe obesity will be the most common BMI category in 44 states,” according to lead author Zachary Ward.

How has this happened?  Following are some of the factors:

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages and ultra-processed foods are more widely available
  • Food prices – “including unhealthy fast-food choices” – have fallen (when adjusted for inflation)
  • Many people have limited options for physical activity

What can be done to avoid the predictions for obesity?  Here are some ideas shared in the article:

  • Improving local public transportation systems to encourage walking instead of driving
  • Keeping public schools open on weekends and summers to provide access to gymnasiums and swimming pools
  • Increasing support for farmers’ markets to provide more access to low-cost fruits and vegetables
  • Eliminating tax deductions to businesses for advertising unhealthy foods to children

An earlier Harvard study found that “the most cost-effective solution was the tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The study found the tax saved $30 in health care costs for every dollar spent on the program.”

As you can see from these studies, all Americans need to be aware of the problem of accelerating rates of obesity in our nation.  Perhaps a more reasonable New Year’s Resolution for you would be to avoid gaining any more weight in the coming year.  The ultimate goal is to stay healthy.  And the best ways to do that and to lose weight are….