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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.


Stomp Out Bullying

Stomp Out Bullying

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…about Bullying

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, I have a young neighbor who has confided in me about her discomfort at the bullying she sees happening at her school.  What kind of advice should I offer her?

A: October is National Bullying Prevention Month Stomp Out Bullying and World Walk To Wellness Ask Mr Pedometer and Friendshere in the USA.  This week I saw a banner over Main Street indicating that our local schools are joining in the national effort to stop bullying among students.  Perhaps we adults could learn from their suggestions as well.  These are ideas from STOMP Out

“Every October, schools and organizations across the country join STOMP Out Bullying™ in observing National Bullying Prevention Month. The goal: encourage schools, communities and organizations to work together to stop bullying and cyberbullying and put an end to hatred and racism by increasing awareness of the prevalence and impact of all forms of bullying on all children of all ages.

Here is what they suggest individual students can do this month (and forever):

Learn How to Deal with Bullies

First of all, you need to know that you are not alone and the bullying isn’t your fault. If you or someone you know is being bullied, ask an adult for help. Stomp Out will help you learn how to deal with a bully and how to protect yourself and others. Learn how to take the power away from the bully by not reacting to comments and walking away. Read more on how to empower yourself and stop the bullying.

Make friends with someone you don’t know at school

“If you’ve ever been isolated from others at school or you were new at school and it took time to make friends, you know what it feels like to be left out. Or even if you were never isolated, imagine how it would feel.

“Make friends with someone at school who you don’t know. You probably wish someone had done that for you.

“Be a leader. Take action and don’t let anyone at school be in isolation.”

STAND UP for Others

“When you see someone being bullied, be brave and STAND UP for them. Bullies have been known to back off when others stand up for victims.

If you don’t feel safe, get the help of an adult immediately . Be part of the solution — not the problem!

“It’s a time to see everyone’s differences and celebrate their similarities: Whether students are LGBT, African American, Asian, Muslim, AAPI, of Tribal descent or disabled …make friends.”

Perhaps your young neighbor can take comfort in the fact that others of all ages are aware of the bullying problem and taking steps to help correct it.

As adults, we also can take responsibility for inclusion.  (For example, all are welcome to join us as we “Walk ‘n’ Talk” together each weekend.)



What You Can Do to Prevent Falls

What You Can Do to Prevent Falls

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends….Prevent Falls

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, an elderly (read: older than me) friend of mine fell recently, and now she’s afraid to leave her house, even for short walks.  I’ve told her that inactivity is bad for her, but she is afraid of falling again.  Any advice?

A: Sadly, you both are correct: Assuming that your friend is over 65, once she has fallen, her chances are doubled that she will fall again.  And, as you have warned her, limiting her movement can cause lower body weakness that actually increases her risk of falling.  This is National Fall Prevention Week, and here is some important information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (

Important Facts about Falls

Each year, millions of older people—those 65 and older—fall. In fact, more than one out of four older people falls each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.

Falls Are Serious and Costly

  • One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury,
  • Each year, 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries.
  • Over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture.
  • Each year at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures.
  • More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways.
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
  • In 2015, the total medical costs for falls totaled more than $50 billion. Medicare and Medicaid shouldered 75% of these costs.

What Can Happen After a Fall?

Many falls do not cause injuries. But one out of five falls does cause a serious injury such as a broken bone or a head injury. These injuries can make it hard for a person to get around, do everyday activities, or live on their own.

  • Falls can cause broken bones, like wrist, arm, ankle, and hip fractures.
  • Falls can cause head injuries. These can be very serious, especially if the person is taking certain medicines (like blood thinners). An older person who falls and hits their head should see their doctor right away to make sure they don’t have a brain injury.
  • Many people who fall, even if they’re not injured, become afraid of falling. This fear may cause a person to cut down on their everyday activities. When a person is less active, they become weaker and this increases their chances of falling.

What Conditions Make You More Likely to Fall?

Research has identified many conditions that contribute to falling. These are called risk factors. Many risk factors can be changed or modified to help prevent falls. They include:

  • Lower body weakness
  • Vitamin D deficiency (that is, not enough vitamin D in your system)
  • Difficulties with walking and balance
  • Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants. Even some over-the-counter medicines can affect balance and how steady you are on your feet.
  • Vision problems
  • Foot pain or poor footwear
  • Home hazards or dangers such as
    • broken or uneven steps, and
    • throw rugs or clutter that can be tripped over.

Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling.

Healthcare providers can help cut down a person’s risk by reducing the fall risk factors listed above.

What You Can Do to Prevent Falls

Falls can be prevented. These are some simple things you can do to keep yourself from falling.

Talk to Your Doctor

  • Ask your doctor or healthcare provider to evaluate your risk for falling and talk with them about specific things you can do.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines to see if any might make you dizzy or sleepy. This should include prescription medicines and over-the counter medicines.
  • Ask your doctor or healthcare provider about taking vitamin D

Do Strength and Balance Exercises

Do exercises that make your legs stronger and improve your balance.

Prevent Falls - Senior Balance exercises by 

Tai Chi is a good example of this kind of exercise.

Have Your Eyes Checked

Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year, and be sure to update your eyeglasses if needed.

If you have bifocal or progressive lenses, you may want to get a pair of glasses with only your distance prescription for outdoor activities, such as walking. Sometimes these types of lenses can make things seem closer or farther away than they really are.

Make Your Home Safer
  • Get rid of things you could trip over.
  • Add grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower and next to the toilet.
  • Put railings on both sides of stairs.
  • Make sure your home has lots of light by adding more or brighter light bulbs.

“Here are six easy steps you can take today to help your older loved one reduce their risk of a fall: You might be able to help your friend (or yourself!) by following these suggestions from Alameda County’s Life Elder Care (

1. Enlist their support in taking simple steps to stay safe.

“Ask your older loved one if they’re concerned about falling. Many older adults recognize that falling is a risk, but they believe it won’t happen to them or they won’t get hurt—even if they’ve already fallen in the past…. If they’re concerned about falling, dizziness, or balance, suggest that they discuss it with their health care provider who can assess their risk and suggest programs or services that could help.

2. Discuss their current health conditions.

“Find out if your older loved one is experiencing any problems with managing their own health. Are they having trouble remembering to take their medications—or are they experiencing side effects? Is it getting more difficult for them to do things they used to do easily?

“Also make sure they’re taking advantage of all the preventive benefits now offered under Medicare, such as the Annual Wellness visit. Encourage them to speak openly with their health care provider about all of their concerns.

 3. Ask about their last eye checkup.

“If your older loved one wears glasses, make sure they have a current prescription and they’re using the glasses as advised by their eye doctor.

“Remember that using tint-changing lenses can be hazardous when going from bright sun into darkened buildings and homes. A simple strategy is to change glasses upon entry or stop until their lenses adjust.

“Bifocals also can be problematic on stairs, so it’s important to be cautious. For those already struggling with low vision, consult with a low-vision specialist for ways to make the most of their eyesight.

4. Notice if they’re holding onto walls, furniture, or someone else when walking or if they appear to have difficulty walking or arising from a chair.

“These are all signs that it might be time to see a physical therapist. A trained physical therapist can help your older loved one improve their balance, strength, and gait through exercise. They might also suggest a cane or walker—and provide guidance on how to use these aids. Make sure to follow their advice. Poorly fit aids actually can increase the risk of falling.

5. Talk about their medications.

“If your older loved one is having a hard time keeping track of medicines or is experiencing side effects, encourage them to discuss their concerns with their doctor and pharmacist. Suggest that they have their medications reviewed each time they get a new prescription.

“Also, beware of non-prescription medications that contain sleep aids—including painkillers with “PM” in their names. These can lead to balance issues and dizziness. If your older loved one is having sleeping problems, encourage them to talk to their doctor or pharmacist about safer alternatives.

6. Do a walk-through safety assessment of their home.

“There are many simple and inexpensive ways to make a home safer. Here are some examples:

  • Lighting: Increase lighting throughout the house, especially at the top and bottom of stairs. Ensure that lighting is readily available when getting up in the middle of the night.
  • Stairs: Make sure there are two secure rails on all stairs.
  • Bathrooms: Install grab bars in the tub/shower and near the toilet. Make sure they’re installed where your older loved one would actually use them.”

I hope that some of the above information will help you assist your friend in staying safe – and active!