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Yes, it’s OK if you want to get out of the house and take a walk during the coronavirus crisis

A man walked across the campus at MIT.
A man walked across the campus at MIT.Erin Clark/Globe Staff/file

Go ahead, stretch your legs. It’s OK for people who are staying at home because of coronavirus shutdowns to take a walk, jog, or bike ride outside, officials and experts say. But they also say people should maintain a reasonable distance from others when they do.

“There’s no reason not to take a walk,” said Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “I think the best thing that people can do who are working from home or forced to stay at home ... is to get some fresh air and use that to help cope with the stress and isolation of being distanced from all your friends and family."

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“If you’re out for a walk on a street or in a park, there’s basically no risk unless you’re really standing face to face with people,” he said Wednesday.

He said people can even go out for a walk with friends or neighbors as long as they maintain a “respectful distance" and skip the hugs and handshakes. (The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people should generally “put distance” between themselves and other people — and avoid coming within 6 feet of those who are sick.)

Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said Wednesday, “Yes, you can walk outside.”

“It’s OK to go outside. It’s important to go outside,” she said, whether it’s to hike, take a bike ride, or walk the dog.

But, she said, “Please remember to wash your hands, especially when you come in from outside.”

Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary MaryLou Sudders also said, “Exercise or take a walk outside. Yes, you can take a walk outside," on Wednesday as she urged people to take care of themselves mentally and physically while they’re forced to stay home.

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Exercise is one of the ways that people can cope with the anxiety caused by the pandemic, mental health experts say.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday morning, “If you have to get outside of the house to exercise, to get some fresh air, which is 100 percent necessary for a lot of people in a lot of circumstances, then do it."

But he also advised that while you’re doing it, “Stay away from people.”

“If you’re not within about six feet of somebody, in almost every case you’re not taking much risk,” Crystal Watson, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told The New York Times recently. “So I think people should get out in the sunshine. Taking your dog out for a walk, or going to a park and keeping your distance, is safe and necessary.”

“It’s probably going to be a beautiful spring,” she added, “and we do need to save our own sanity.”





Martin finucane can be reached at martin.finucane@globe.com