As recently as last week,  the best way to relieve Buffalo stress was, for some to head  to the nearest restaurant, bar or gym.

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Not anymore. With Governor Cuomo's closure of the restaurants (except for takeout), bars and gyms, along with schools, movie theaters and any other place where people congregate, the leisurely walk, it seems, is all that’s left.

“When you walk, you’re utterly in touch with the drama of the city,” said the writer Vivian Gornick, whose 1987 memoir, “Fierce Attachments,” reissued last year, focused on long, illuminating strolls through NYC with her mother. “You’re constantly overhearing conversations, and catching all kinds of snatches of people in odd expressions and conditions. No small city in the world can duplicate that experience.”

“When you’re out on the street,” she added, “it’s a continuous stream of momentary connection, and that has its own life, its own particular vividness, and it’s irreplaceable.”

The same can be said of cycling or jogging, but whatever your preferred means of motion, be attuned to the social and psychological benefits of head-clearing, heart-stimulating jaunts, even in the age of self-quarantines and social distancing.

In Milan, a hot zone for Coronavirus residents are still free, if not encouraged, to enjoy a walk or jog “for the sake of outdoor physical activity,” as The Washington Post reported, as long as social distances are respected.

For now, however, Western New Yorkers are still relying on walks through the city as a form of mental cleansing.

Social distancing, as we all should be aware of by now, means “maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even in times of pandemic, that is easier said than done on Broadway at 5 p.m. on a Monday.

“If you’re not within about six feet of somebody, in almost every case you’re not taking much risk,” said Crystal Watson, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “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.”

Take a walk, visit a WNY Park (it's free right now) and good for your sanity.


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