A woman walks her dog past the cherry trees in bloom Saturday along Grand Avenue Parkin Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A woman walks her dog past the cherry trees in bloom Saturday along Grand Avenue Parkin Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Staying home without gyms means we should all tour the ’hood

To stay active, stroll or roll around your neighborhood, pick up trash, and fight your sweet tooth.

I have a confession that riles up my own sense of environmental justice and urban living pride.

I deeply, really, truly despise walking.

Ever seen a child or toddler pouting about walking? Inside, that’s me a lot of the time.

If socially acceptable (not to mention safe) to roller skate everywhere, I would. Trip to the corner store for a snack? Sure. Going from my couch to the kitchen? Why not?

Shoot, if I weren’t so self-conscious and it didn’t violate work rules, I’d pop on some Heelys , those shoes with little wheels in the heels that are popular with children. I could cruise from my desk to the kitchen at the office, roll to the copier and maybe spin around the weird load-bearing post in the middle of the newsroom.

Of course, that was back when I was working in the newsroom instead of my living room.

Many of us are staying home so people can provide health care, tend to children, stock grocery shelves, operate transit and efficiently deal with the coronavirus.

A view of I-5 northbound and southbound lanes from 23rd Street at 4 p.m. Saturday in Everett. Usually northbound traffic backs up in the area, but has been devoid of vehicles lately while people stay home because of the new coronavirus and its disease COVID-19. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A view of I-5 northbound and southbound lanes from 23rd Street at 4 p.m. Saturday in Everett. Usually northbound traffic backs up in the area, but has been devoid of vehicles lately while people stay home because of the new coronavirus and its disease COVID-19. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald) Purchase Photo

Starting a couple of weeks ago, traffic seemingly vanished around Seattle. In a Washington State Department of Transportation blog, DiAngelea Miller wrote that traffic volumes from Everett to Northgate were down 30% compared to February. The morning commute change was more dramatic, with traffic volumes down by 41% as of March 10.

That dropoff is evident for anyone still driving on I-5, or who sees normally bumper-to-taillight traffic replaced with mostly empty pavement.

On a recent bike ride around north Everett, I pedaled across I-5 on 23rd Street. Usually the stretch of freeway is congested as vehicles lose a lane to the exit-only ramp to Marine View Drive en route to Marysville, Tulalip, Arlington and other parts north. But they were few and far between.

The Cook family plays bump Saturday during their “daily P.E class” that they do as a family to get out of the house in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The Cook family plays bump Saturday during their “daily P.E class” that they do as a family to get out of the house in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald) Purchase Photo

But with gyms and fitness centers closed, my healthy routine of twice-a-week basketball is dunked. The temperatures lately aren’t compelling me to hop on my bike because I am a fair-weather cyclist (you can catch me cruising between June and August).

Instead, I take little strolls around my neighborhood in Everett. It’s a pleasant way to get out of the house and adhere to social distancing.

Walking also is a reminder of the privilege of doing so, and that not every space is built to suit people with mobility restrictions.

Health experts say walking is a good, low-impact way to stay active. It lowers the chance of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. Even before the stay-home order it was considered the most popular aerobic activity with 60% of American adults walking at least 10 minutes in a week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One of the most personally relevant walking-related health tips came from Harvard Medical School, which found that it curbs a sweet tooth, of which I am astoundingly guilty of having.

With the sudden heap of time, I amble along the sidewalks and listen to music or a shameful backlog of podcasts. I’m going to start taking a little bag with me for trash, and I’m starting to see how “plogging,” a trend among joggers who pick up garbage as they go, can become so enticing. The cherry blossoms and other flowers, trees and shrubs in bloom are a welcome jolt of color and fragrance.

Even though I find my struts a nice respite from the doldrums, I’m still itching to lace up my skates to the corner store for a treat.

How are you passing the time and staying active?

Have a question? Email streetsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your first and last name and city of residence.

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