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Coronavirus Questions Answered: Can I Go For A Walk?

University Hospitals' Dr. Keith Armitage said exercising outside is still a good thing to do amidst the coronavirus outbreak. [Ruth Sabrina Novita / Shutterstock]
Footsteps on a sidewalk

Updated on April 7, 2020 at 3 p.m.

What are your questions about the coronavirus?

ideastream is answering as many questions as possible, with help from local experts in a range of fields. You can  send us your questions with our online form, through our  social media  pages and  group or call us at 216-916-6476. We'll  keep the answers coming on our website and on the air.

Many people have written in asking if it’s safe to go outside.

Elizabeth from Cleveland said she hears the calls to stay home, especially if a person is over 60. But she asked:  “ Can we be outside walking the dog or ourselves?”

It’s OK to go outside for a walk with or without your dog. In fact, University Hospitals’ Dr. Keith Armitage recommends it.

“Going outside is great. Exercising outside is great,” he said. “I live in Cleveland Heights, I walk my dog frequently, as does my family.”

He said he’s noticed more joggers, possibly because gyms are closing.

During the Sunday press conference, Gov. DeWine said going outside in uncrowded areas is fine, but Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said staying inside is safest.

Many gyms are offering online classes, and there are free workout videos on YouTube as well.

Susan from Willowick asked: “I walk for exercise in the hallways of our high-rise apartment building. I only come across one or two people at the most while walking. Is this safe?”  

University Hospitals' Dr. Keith Armitage said if possible, Susan should go outside for her exercise. But he said as long as the hallway isn’t crowded, she should be fine, as long as she stays six feet away from people, and washes her hands after touching anything.

“When you’re in any public space, you don’t know if any of the surfaces are contaminated with the coronavirus,” he said.

The CDC says a person is much more likely to get coronavirus from person to person contact but research also suggests it is possible to get it from touching contaminated surfaces.

So public health officials say everyone should be mindful of door handles and other shared surfaces they might touch, whether exercising or doing anything in public.

Judy from Old Brooklyn asked: “Close friends ask me to take walks outside. They say wind will blow germs away so we should be OK. What are the guidelines for when we are walking outside?”

University Hospitals’ Dr. Elie Saade said people should really limit contact to just the people they live with.

But there is some truth to the wind providing some protection.

“When you’re outside, the air is cleared pretty quickly, and it’s pretty diluted, so the risk is lower,” said Saade.

But lower risk doesn’t mean no risk, and people should still practice social distancing measures outside and be sure not to touch their face after touching public surfaces, said Saade. National guidelines also instruct people to wear cloth masks.

Cleveland Metroparks has been monitoring popular parks to make sure they don’t get too crowded.

lisa.ryan@ideastream.org | 216-916-6158