Walking seen as a positive in era of coronavirus

SCOTT FRIEDMAN

Families in Hopewell Valley dealing with isolation due to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) are being encouraged to walk outdoors.

Board member Frank Newport of Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (FoHVOS) is one of the advocates for this exercise activity.

“The social distance mandates we are now living through have resulted in a number of consequences for our daily lives. We are much more likely to be in our homes rather than driving around in cars and spending time in hermetically [airtight] sealed office buildings,” Newport said. “This fact of life provides a serendipitous and unprecedented opportunity for us to get out and enjoy the nature around us. Needing to ‘get out of the house,’ we can rewardingly do just that by using our own feet.”

He added that there is no better time to be outside.

“The recommendations from authorities all recognize the importance of outdoor exercise and it is specifically referred to as a positive activity that can continue during the current mandates. Much outdoor walking, of course, can be done on the streets in Hopewell Borough, Pennington, Titusville and on many of our rural roads where there is no problem with crowding whatsoever,” Newport said. “But walking on any of the wonderful trails in Hopewell Township can also be accomplished with no worry about social distancing. I’ve been walking in recent days all over the Township, and there has been no problem with bumping into or coming close to other people.”

Available trails include the Heritage Preserve trail, Jacobs Creek Trail and Thompson Preserve trail in Hopewell Township.

Lisa Wolff, executive director of FoHVOS, recommends that in the interest of social distancing individuals avoid the more popular parks and preserves.

“People can use our free trail guide to find less used and more remote trails. A cursory search results in a number of studies proving the health benefits of contact with nature including lowered blood pressure, stress reduction, reduced obesity and improved ability to concentrate,” she said. “Yet, equally important is nature’s role in our spiritual development and, I would argue, the sense of joy, wonder, and connection to the earth, one experiences when fully immersed.”

According to Newport, it is important that people take this opportunity to walk the trails and experience the nature.

“Now that we are not leaving our homes as much as in the past, getting out in nature is a wonderful way to alleviate “cabin fever” and break the sameness of being in our homes 24/7. There are no downsides and many upsides to taking this opportunity to get out and exercise and enjoy the beautiful nature we have around us,”Newport said. “We are truly blessed in Hopewell Township to have the ability to walk along a beautiful and major river (the Delaware), to summit the highest point in Mercer County (Baldpate Mountain), and to walk along an extremely historic creek (Jacobs Creek, in the footsteps of Gen. George Washington).”

He added that people have the chance to take in the forests of Curlis Lake Woods and wooded areas stretching from Hopewell Borough across to the new Woosamonsa Preserve, and to circumnavigate the historic “pole farm.”

Engaging in exercise activities such as walking are exceptions to Gov. Phil Murphy’s stay-at-home order issued on March 21.

“We know the virus spreads through person-to-person contact, and the best way to prevent further exposure is to limit our public interactions to only the most essential purposes,” Murphy said.

For more information on the trails in Hopewell Valley, visit www.fohvos.info.