Biking

When this article was envisioned a few months ago, we had no idea how far from our typical spring days we would be today. What was to be an exuberant celebration of our vast array of outdoor opportunities is now a much more subdued call to action — an invitation to get outdoors and get moving!

It is well established that movement, especially outdoors in nature, is a great benefit to our bodies and minds. Being homebound due to temperature, pollutants — such as pollen or smoke — in the air, injury, illness or lack of access have always evoked feelings of restlessness. Now the coronavirus pandemic has forced so many of us to stay home from work, school, sports, gyms and many of our favorite outdoor recreation spaces. Under these extreme circumstances, it is more important than ever to get outdoors.

When considering getting outside, what are our options for the near future? The Stay Home, Stay Healthy mandate issued by Governor Inslee, orders all Washingtonians to stay home unless they are performing specific essential tasks outside the home. The Governor’s mandate also states that “People can still participate in activities such as bike rides, gardening, and dog walking — as long as they follow social distancing rules.” Travel is not advised. The mandate is clear in its support of our physical and mental well-being. Let’s break it down:

Family bike rides are a great way to get out and allow you to monitor adherence to social distancing. Even just a few laps around the block or to a nearby park can be beneficial. Bike trailers and trailer bikes are good options for families with small children. If only the kids have bikes, challenge them to ride in the grass at the park, add obstacles such as cones or outline a course using a long rope to simulate turns. Riding the grass is more challenging and navigating obstacles and turns enhances bike handling skills. Older children and adults can ride on City and county roads — visit the City of Walla Walla website to view the Walla Walla Valley Bicycling Map. If you need a bike, service or gear, bicycle shops have been deemed an essential business and both Allegro and Bicycle Barn are available to get you safely back in the saddle.

Gardening: If you have a garden space, you’ve probably already been prepping for the weeks and months ahead. If you have neglected garden space or would like to establish one, there are many resources to help! Local producers, like Frog Hollow Farms, are preparing starts, seeds and supplies are available at local essential business retailers or online and there are a number of local Facebook groups related to gardening to explore. Container gardens can also be a great option for a family project. Feel free to reach out to us at the Sustainable Living Center — Walla Walla Valley Farm to School program. We’re happy to help!

If nothing else, walking or walking your dog, provides a great way to get outside. If you find your energy waning or attention drifting during the day, get up and walk around the block. This may just take a few minutes but will leave you refreshed.

If you have a dog, it will love the extra chance to explore the neighborhood. Just make sure you are prepared to clean up after it! You can also walk dogs for at-risk individuals who are staying in more. Of course, proper sanitation and social distancing here are vital.

While not ideal, we do still have options and urge you to stay active and stay healthy until we can once again take full advantage of our rich bounty of recreational opportunities. For questions or additional support, reach out to us via our website at slcww.org or via e-mail at info@slcww.org.

Erendira Cruz is the executive director of the Sustainable Living Center. She has a bachelor’s degree in business management from Montana State University.