Morning Walks Essential in Lockdown (By Ashwin Tombat)

By Ashwin Tombat
26 April 2020 09:13 IST

According to a recent report in a leading Goan English newspaper, the Goa Police have urged the public to avoid morning and evening walks in view of the ongoing lockdown, and instead try Yoga at home.

“We know Goa loves to stay fit but during lockdown we need to stay fit at home. Goa Police urges you to avoid morning and evening walks to keep yourself safe from exposure (to Covid-19). Have you tried our age-old exercise; Yoga?” says the cops’ social media post.

According to the police, going out for a walk means defying the spirit of lockdown, putting one at risk of exposure to the virus. Yoga helps to stay in and stay safe. It keeps one mentally and physically healthy, helps heal the body from existing conditions, improves breathing and has a meditative quality.

I have little doubt that Yoga has amazing benefits, but it definitely cannot and does not impart aerobic cardio-vascular exercise. That is what the people who take morning or evening walks – most of whom are in their 40s or older – require.

Most of those taking walks are doing it on the advice of their doctors. They are doing it to help control or prevent degenerative diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

As many as 25 per cent of all deaths in India are now because of heart disease, stroke induced by high blood pressure, or diabetes. Collectively, they are the country’s largest killer; accounting for more deaths than infectious diseases.

The best way of controlling and preventing these diseases is by:

India’s lockdown is the world’s most severe. People are strictly confined to their homes. They do not commute to work or perform their regular duties. They no longer get exercise as a result of their ordinary daily routines. If they can’t take walks, they will be deprived of cardio-vascular exercise altogether.

Suddenly stopping an exercise routine can have shockingly harmful effects on the body. Scientific studies have shown that even a 15-day stoppage in regular cardio-vascular exercise can increase blood pressure, elevate blood sugar levels, cause loss of muscle mass and increase in body fat, as well as decrease blood supply to the muscles of the heart.

This is a clear double whammy during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. High blood pressure, respiratory diseases, diabetes and cardio-vascular disease are not only severe health hazards in themselves; they are known as ‘co-morbidities’ and are significant risk factors for severe illness and death in Covid-19 patients. If anyone with these conditions gets infected, their chances of dying go up very sharply.

By stopping people from taking their regular morning and evening walks, the Goa Police is not saving them but, on the contrary, putting them at greater risk of death!

It is only by breaking the chain of transmission that Covid-19 can be controlled. This requires physical distancing, so that the virus cannot move from one person to another. Staying at home is only a means of ensuring physical distancing; it cannot be an end in itself.

If people can actively practice physical distancing while on their morning or evening walks, they cannot spread Covid-19. That is all the police need to be concerned about.

I myself go out running every alternate morning in Porvorim, and I have noticed that most of the older morning walkers are extremely careful about keeping a distance from other walkers. I don’t know about other places in Goa, but I doubt that the situation will be very different. If anything, the Goa Police should check whether walkers are keeping a safe distance from each other; if not, they should send them home.

In New York (the worst Covid-affected area in the USA), in the UK and in France – all of which are much worse affected than India – people are allowed to go out for a walk, cycle or run once a day during the lockdown. In Italy, you are allowed to walk your dog or cat once a day. Even in countries that are less affected but locked down like New Zealand, exercise once a day is permitted.

Why not in Goa?

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Ashwin Tombat

Ashwin Tombat has been the Editor of Gomantak Times and Herald. Worked as an Associate Editor of national magazine Gentleman in Mumbai, before shifting to Goa. Loves sailing, also participates in Marathons. Has worked as an activist in students's union and trade unions in Maharashtra. Also an artist of Street Theatre during student days.

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Previous Comments

What about the:

1. Gau Gabar (Cow Dung) and

2. Gau Mutra (Cow Urine) Therapies.

- Ganvtti Voiz, Panjim | 08 th May 2020 07:40

 

Will the Goa Government and the Goa Police Department Officials read, listen and discern Your views beneficial to the Citizens of Goa, Sir?

- Silvano Dias Sapeco, Verem Reis-Magos Goa | 26 th April 2020 06:46

 

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