As I adjusted to my new life of social distancing, handwashing and wearing a mask, the one thing that kept me going was my solitary walk in Bryant park almost daily for the past three weeks. I confess I am not adventurous when it comes to exercise. Over the years, I have found that walking is something I love to do and that is basically what my exercise routine has been. While I try to squeeze almost an hour most days, it becomes challenging sometimes to find the time between my patients, family and friends. 

It came as a blessing then that with time on my hands during the COVID-19 pandemic, I found an hour to walk in the park daily. I spent that time talking on the phone with my sister in California, with a close friend who suffered a stroke a few years ago and other close friends. After my phone calls, I turned on audible to listen to the book for our monthly book group. I loved the sight of the lake and children playing in the park as we kept our safe distances from each other. In these unprecedented and trying times, a walk in Bryant park became the highlight of my day, my little happy secret, something I looked forward to.

Three days ago, my happy hour came to a screeching halt as the Governor shut down state and county parks. Due to lack of motivation, I have not exercised for three days. Being a physician and knowing what I know abut COVID-19, I support the Governor in his decision. What worries me is a bigger problem. With the ongoing restrictions due to the pandemic, over time, our leaders and law makers  may have to weigh the risk to population health from lack of motivation, anxiety, depression, lack of exercise and good nutrition caused by confinement with the risk of infection from a virus. 

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That is why it behooves us to do our part. Consider the pandemic as a war and the virus as our enemy. The only way we can fight this virus is by using strict precautions of handwashing, social distancing and wearing masks as well as by keeping ourselves healthy. Exercise increases immunity and stress reduces immunity. Weight gain may prevent adequate defense against the virus. Let’s try to avoid eating processed foods, snacks and desserts. Let’s go on YouTube or use online exercise classes to get at least thirty minutes of exercise daily. To reduce anxiety and stress, let’s try to meditate daily for at least twenty minutes, starting with 3 minutes and increasing by two minutes every day. To win this war, we must stay healthy, that to me is a win-win situation. 

As for me, I will motivate myself to go for a walk to downtown tomorrow. And deep down in my heart, I will never take Bryant Park for granted again.

Dr Kavita Kewalramani is an Internist at K Primary Care and Medical Nutrition Center, kprimarycare.com. She is offering telemedicine visits for medical problems, diabetes and weight management. Call 908-206-4676.