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In time of COVID-19, walking on rooftops is safer



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By Aashish Mishra
Kathmandu, Dec. 17: Four years ago, a health check-up revealed that Pratibha Awale had high cholesterol. This scared the 53-year-old resident of Jorpati, Kathmandu and on the advice of her friends, she took up morning walks. Since then, Awale had been getting up every day at the crack of dawn and walking for an hour to an hour and a half around her locality until March 24.
With the imposition of the nationwide lockdown, she was no longer able to walk outside. So, she started walking on her terrace. “I felt that if I stopped my daily walks, my cholesterol would rise again. So, when I couldn’t go outside, I went up on my roof and walked around the terrace,” she said.
Similarly, Padma Lamichhane, 68, and his wife Sheela, 60, also walk on the terrace of their home in Koteshwor, Kathmandu. The couple, both of whom are diabetic, told The Rising Nepal that they felt lucky because they have a big roof along with a garden to walk around for 60 to 70 minutes.
“We have been having our morning walks inside our compound since the COVID-19-induced restrictions were first declared. Since we are elderly and suffer from a chronic illness, our daughters-in-law have not allowed us to leave home,” Padma said.
Even though the lockdown has been lifted and there are no curbs on mobility anymore, both Awale and the Lamichhane pair continue to conduct their morning walks on their lawns and terraces. They represent a larger trend being picked up by many residents in Kathmandu of walking in terraces and gardens in light of the pandemic.
“It is still unsafe to go out because of the coronavirus,” Awale said. “Besides, there is no difference in walking on the road and the roof.”
Professor Dr. Rajendra Koju, dean of Kathmandu University School of Medical Sciences and cardiologist at Dhulikhel Hospital, agrees. “Morning walks are equally beneficial, regardless of whether done on the road or one’s terrace, balcony or garden. The main thing is to walk.”
Explaining that morning walks were a form of aerobic exercises, he said that it wasn’t even necessary that people do it in the morning. “It will be just as effective if people walk during the day or evening. The timing and location do not make much of a difference. So, people can do it where and when they feel safe,” he said.
Aerobic exercises are low-intensity physical exercises.
Similarly, given the current situation, Professor Dr. Yogendra Man Shakya, head of the department of General Practice and Emergency Medicine at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, called it advisable for everyone to do morning walks and jogs inside the premises of one’s own home.
“Home is the safest place one can be in considering the possibility of contracting the coronavirus,” he said, adding that there would not be much difference in walking or jogging on the roof or in one’s
garden and on the road as long as people did it properly. “A 45-minute walk or jog that makes you sweat is ideal,” Dr. Shakya said.  Nevertheless, people with different ailments have different exercise needs and excessive workout may be detrimental to people with conditions like high blood pressure. So, Shakya recommended that people consult with health professionals about their walking or jogging regiment.
According to Dr. Dibasha Adhikari, medical officer at Patan Hospital, morning walks can be helpful for people suffering from hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes.