For Sheltering Folks, Strolling
A Safe, Healthy, Growing Habit
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Shelter-in-place is no excuse to be a couch potato.
“It feels good to get some exercise,” said Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig. “People are respecting the social distancing, but you can see people and wave hello across the street. And these days, seeing someone smile and wave means a lot!”
Herzig, along with many others, have made getting outside every day a priority under the COVID-19 quarantine.
“Exercising is critical for physical and mental health,” said Val Paige, Clark Sports Center director. “I’ve seen a lot of people using our trails and our field to get some exercise in.”
Paige recommends a half-hour walk, three times a week, as “a good starting point.”
“As long as everyone is social distancing, you ought to be able to get some exercise,” she said. “Get the kids out there too!”
It’s also a good way to pass the time, with many working from home or on furlough.
“We never did it that much, but there’s nothing else to do, so we walk,” said Gabrielle DeCepoli, Cooperstown, who was strolling down Chestnut Street Saturday, April 4, with her husband Owen Ellsworth and their dog, Gracie. “We walk three, four miles a day.”
“We’ve been taking our dog on a walk twice a day,” said Herzig. “Folks who have dogs must appreciate them even more than ever – it gives you a purpose to get outside.”
“We used to take our dog, Natasha, for one short walk in the morning and then a good walk later on,” said Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch. “Now we’re walking her four times a day.”
She even used a trip to Village Hall – officially closed for business – as a chance to get out herself and Natasha of the house. “Our standard walk was a little over a mile,” she said. “Now we’re doing at least two walks that are a mile, plus one that’s two miles or more.”
She even plans her walks around the village’s construction projects now underway – those that are still deemed “essential.” “I’ll walk through Doubleday and downtown to see the progress,” she said.
Like Herzig in Oneonta, she sees it not only a chance to get some exercise, but to see her neighbors. “It’s fun to stand across the street and see your friends out walking too,” she said. “Especially when they’re out with their dogs. It’s a way to stay connected, but still maintain that social distancing.”
“Without work and mass social interaction, people enjoy these interactions more,” said Ellsworth. “They’re happy to see you.”
Those who already walk for their health have added an extra stroll to the day. “We’re so cooped up and we can’t go anywhere,” said Barbara Busch, who lives at Oneonta’s Plains at Parish Homestead with her husband, Doc.
Hand in hand, they walk to the corner at Route 205 and Oneida Street, then return to do a loop around the nearby Peaceful Flats mobile home park. “We walk for half an hour,” she said. “It doesn’t matter the weather, there’s always some part of the day when it isn’t raining, and if there isn’t, we just take umbrellas.”
For those who want to see more than concrete, there are plenty of hiking trails open as well. “I’ve done a lot more hiking than I have in a while,” said Jonathan Visnosky, Oneonta. “SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick both have nice trails, and you’re out there alone.”
State parks, including Glimmerglass, Robert V. Riddell and Betty & Wilber Davis, are remaining open, although the state parks department does advise maintaining social distancing while hiking and not to take to the trails if you are feeling sick.
But people aren’t just walking. “I work 12-hour shifts at Springbrook,” said Jon Dykstra, Oneonta, who spent Saturday morning skateboarding around downtown. “I’ve been skating on and off for the past few years, but now I’m trying to get out for fresh air whenever I can.”
Working at a residence on Southside, he’s even considered skating to work. “I could if I wanted to,” he said. “Maybe when the weather is nicer.”