Hyderabad: You can find him at the crack of dawn at the Public Gardens. Come hail or thunderstorm he is there, walking steadily to become one with nature. For the last four decades he has incorporated walking into his daily routine. But these past few months, Ghulam Yezdani has not been able to carry out his favourite morning exercise. He is not alone to miss this early morning workout.

There are no two opinions about morning walking being a blessing for the whole day. But ever since the corona pandemic broke out, morning walkers have been halted in their tracks. All the green spaces in the city are now out of bounds for them. While other activities are gradually being resumed after the lockdown, morning walks and gyms still remain prohibited. “Walking offers immense health benefits and to stop it at this juncture is difficult to understand”, says Mr. Yezdani, chairman, Public Garden Walkers’ Association.

The oldest park in Hyderabad, Public Gardens sees nearly 2000 footfalls in normal times. People of all age groups come here regularly for walking since its vast expanse of greenery offers fresh breath of air. But for the last five months authorities have stopped joggers and morning walkers stating that it would be difficult to maintain social distancing. “When physical distancing can be maintained in other walks of life why can’t it be done during walking”, wonders Mr. Yezdani.

The senior advocate, who is 90 plus, ascribes his good health to regular walking and swimming. For the last two and half decades he has also been organising health lectures for the morning walkers on first Sunday of every month. Doctors and health experts speak on different aspects of wellbeing and offer tips. But even these lectures, which could have been of immense help to people in these trouble times, are not taking place now.

Morning walkers want the government to allow regular walking in all the parks since this exercise is good not just for body but soul as well. Besides warding off heart diseases, walking lowers blood pressure and lightens the mood. “We will ensure that social distancing is maintained while walking”, says Mr. Yezdani.

So why not resume the most ancient and still the best of modern exercises?

J.S. Ifthekhar

J.S. Ifthekhar is a senior journalist with nearly four decades of experience. Ifthekhar cut his teeth in journalism at the Indian Express before he moved to The Hindu. He was also associated with the Siasat Daily, Telangana Today, Deccan Chronicle, Onlooker magazine, Newstrack, Detective Digest and a few news agencies. He has written on different subjects and aspects of Hyderabadi life. However, his passion remains literature in general and Urdu poetry in particular. He is equally concerned with culture, heritage, civic affairs and problems confronting the man in the street. As a journalist he has taken up cudgels on behalf of the underprivileged and many of his stories in The Hindu saw the government promptly taking corrective measures. Ifthekhar has authored two books - Hyderabad - The Nawabi City on The Move and Haj - The Spirit Behind it. He has also translated two books from Urdu to English. Currently he is working on his third book - Poets and Writers of Deccan.

Loves to write and writes to live. Can't imagine doing anything else.

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