Mask Wearing Made Easier

Some states are loosening restrictions put in place because of the Coronavirus pandemic. In Texas, restaurants are allowed to welcome more diners, schools are opening for in-person instruction and water fitness classes are resuming. This does not mean, however, that the pandemic has ended. COVID-19 is still out there and the basic measures to protect yourself are still important: wash your hands frequently, maintain a social distance of 6 feet, and wear a face mask.

James H. Dickerson, PhD wrote an article published in the October 2020 issue of Consumer Reports on Health entitled “How to Make Mask Wearing Easier” with some timely advice.

  1. Position the mask so that it covers your mouth and nose. This will prevent virus particles from escaping your breath and will also prevent some virus particles from other people’s breath from landing on you. If you leave either your nose or your mouth uncovered, you have removed the protective barrier.
  2. Use a mask with two layers. This improves the mask’s ability to filter out particles no matter what kind of fabric was used to make the mask. Higher thread counts filter a little better than lower thread counts. Another way to improve filtration is to insert cotton batting in between the two layers. Disposable mask filters can also be purchased if your mask has a pocket for them. If you choose to use a vented mask, make sure it has a filter or else the breathing valve will allow you to exhale particles into the air as well as inhale other people’s germs.
  3. If your glasses fog up while wearing your mask, try washing your glasses with soap and water, and then letting them air-dry or drying them with a soft cloth before putting the mask on. You can also try putting your mask on closer to the bridge of your nose to prevent your breath from escaping out the top of your mask. Then make sure the glasses rest on the top edge of your mask.
  4. Try not to touch the mask while you are wearing it. If you need to adjust the mask, touch only the strings or elastic, or at the worst, touch only the outermost edges. The same goes for when you remove the mask. Wash your hands after you handle the mask. Wash your mask in the laundry or by hand. If hand washing, use 1/3 cup of bleach in a gallon of water. Dry the mask fully before wearing it again.
  5. Latex gloves aren’t considered very useful outside of healthcare settings unless you are caring for or cleaning up after someone who is ill. Instead, wash your hands regularly, including after going out in public, and handling mail and packages.

Until we have a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19, mask wearing and social distancing will continue to be important. As for hand washing, that’s a good habit to keep going even with a vaccine. Stay safe!

Author/Instructor Photo

Chris Alexander

Home Workout

COVID-19 has most of us homebound these days with no definite end in sight. What are you doing to fill your time? There is probably a lot of Netflix movie and TV binge watching going on. But it is important to stay active as well. Here are some ideas to get you moving:

(1) Spring cleaning is probably not on the top of anyone’s list, but it is spring and house work is exercise. It is recommended that you regularly clean door knobs, light switches, faucet handles, toilet handles and seats, computer keyboards and cellphones, all of which you touch frequently. For the cellphones, use a wipe for cleaning glasses. Get more ambitious and clean the refrigerator, wash the curtains and deep clean the bathrooms. Since my grandchildren are not coming over during this time, I took the opportunity to wash all the toys in their toybox and replace all the batteries. Cleaning supplies can be hard to find. You can order safe, bio-degradable cleaning supplies online from Branch Basics at https://branchbasics.com/shop/

(2) If you enjoy gardening, that is another great way to get some exercise. You can create a container garden for your patio or work in your backyard garden. There has been a lot of rain in Plano, Texas which is good for the flowers; my verbena and bluebonnets are especially beautiful. The rain has been good for the weeds too, so weeding is one of my projects. If you want to plant something, Calloway’s allows you to make phone orders for curbside pickup.

(3) Walking is the perfect exercise for everyone and the spring weather has made walking around the neighborhood especially enticing. Explore those side streets that you usually just drive past in your car. Remember to maintain social distancing, since many of your neighbors have the same idea.

(4) You can do a strength training workout in your living room. I’ve got two home workout videos on YouTube that you can check out for ideas. The first video uses household items that you already have for equipment. Go to https://youtu.be/xtGvywsYY4g to view it. The second video uses bands. Go to https://youtu.be/DwXrroDRaOc to view that one. Other Plano instructors have also created videos. You can find them on the Plano Parks & Recreation Facebook page.

The pools may be closed but we still have to keep moving. Stay safe!

Chris Alexander

Protect Yourself from the Coronavirus

The Coronavirus is spreading across the globe and there is a growing fear of the disease showing up in our backyard. The Arthritis Foundation included some common sense information about how to protect yourself in their most recent newsletter:

Wash your hands. We can’t stress this enough. Wet your hands with clean, running water, then lather them with soap. Scrub both sides, between your fingers and under your nails for at least 20 seconds – about as long as it takes to sing the alphabet song (or Happy Birthday) twice. Be thorough and follow the WHO technique.

Use hand sanitizers on the go. Don’t rely on them, but when soap and water aren’t an option, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Keep a bottle in the car, at your desk and in your purse or pocket.

Disinfect surfaces regularly. Clean high-touch surfaces like countertops, light switches, doorknobs and the inside of your car with disinfectant. Use a mixture of 60% isopropyl alcohol and 40% water to kill germs on high-touch objects and surfaces like your cell phone, computer keyboard, remote, doorknobs and faucets. Wash eyeglasses with soap and warm water every day.

Cover your mouth and nose when you cough. Throw away all your used tissues immediately.

Practice your fist bump. Try to forgo handshakes and hugs for the time being.

Skip the mask. Standard surgical face masks won’t screen out viruses in healthy people, but if you’re sick, a mask can help block droplets from sneezing or coughing so you won’t infect others. The U.S. Surgeon General has asked healthy people not to stock up on masks because the priority is that health care providers have them and they may experience a shortage if the general public buys them.

Call ahead. If you have cold or flu symptoms call your doctor instead of rushing to urgent care or the emergency room. If you don’t have a doctor and are sick enough to need emergency care, call ahead and let the hospital know you’re on the way.

Keep up to date with reliable sources. Follow major news outlets and health authorities such as the CDC, WHO, and the New York Times.

Follow this sound advice and you will go a long way towards minimizing your risk.

Stay healthy!

Chris Alexander