Get Started
Get Started

Florida, Texas, and Arizona have recently reported the highest single-day totals of new COVID-19 cases. The data suggests that reopening too quickly, without adequate guidelines and restrictions is a documented failure. Consequently, Washington State is the latest state to delay its reopening plans. No matter how much we want to return to our normal lives, our lives before COVID-19, we must remain vigilant! The Director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has repeatedly said, “You don’t make the timeline; the virus makes the timeline.”

The pandemic is not over and is not going away anytime soon. We can’t just go off to bars, sporting events, concerts, or summer camps and pretend all is well. Instead, we must learn to live with the virus for now. While feelings of frustration, confusion and even depression have become commonplace, we cannot let our guard down…whether your area is in red, yellow, green or phase 1, 2, or 3.

According to Aaron Hamilton, MD, Associate Chief Safety and Quality Officer at The Cleveland Clinic, “There’s still a lot of COVID-19 in our communities and in our hospitals. We’ve done a lot in society to flatten the curve, which kept people safe and helped healthcare manage the critically ill patients – but this isn’t going away over the course of the summer. The virus is not gone.”

As states and businesses open back up and life tries to carry on, it can be tricky to determine what activities and events are safe and what’s worth skipping. Dr. Hamilton feels that being aware of (and following!) the proper guidelines and safety measures can help you determine the risk level associated with a particular activity. There are actions we can all take that might not look or feel normal, but they can help protect us as we all learn to live in this new world. 

Consider time, space & people: These are the three main factors to consider attending an activity or event; time, space and people


Less is better! Carefully weigh how much time you’ll be spending at the activity. Less time means limiting your risk of exposure to the virus.


Where is the activity or event being held...outside or indoors? If it’s indoors, consider how enclosed or ventilated the space is. We know that it’s safer to be outside than inside (but that doesn’t mean the risk of catching the virus outdoors is zero). You should also consider if the space has a limit on how many people can be there at one time. This will clue you in to how easy or difficult it will be to maintain physical distance from others.


Are the people attending the activity or event outside of your direct household? Consider if they will be following and respecting safety guidelines, which include: 

Where on the spectrum does the activity fall?

“When thinking about the risk of an activity, I like to think of it as a spectrum,” explains Dr. Hamilton. “It’s less about safe vs. not safe, and more about layers of risk. Everybody will have to do a risk assessment for themselves and determine where they’re comfortable and what safety guidelines they’re going to follow.”

On one end of the spectrum, the absolute safest thing to do is to stay at home with your family. On the other end of the spectrum would be large, indoor gatherings. Certain activities will always carry a much higher risk than others. A large, indoor concert is going to be more dangerous than an outdoor picnic with a couple of friends who are following safety measures. How often you choose to partake in riskier activities and events matters as well.

The degree of safety depends on the degree to which you comply with the guidelines.

9 popular activities and events and what to consider when it comes to weighing the risk.

(Dr. Aaron Hamilton, The Cleveland Clinic)

As we all try to determine our new normal, remind yourself that the recommendations are there to keep COVID-19 in a place where we can manage it until we have treatments and vaccines available.

Source: Cleveland Clinic

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”

Check out all of Dr. Mackarey's articles in our archives at:

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine

Dr. Catherine Heimrich, PT, DPT
Dr. Catherine Heimrich, PT, DPT

Yoga for a Healthy Mind, Body, and Spirit, Part 1 of 2

Guest Columnist: Catherine Heimrich, DPT

Patients frequently ask me about the merits of yoga, from relaxation to flexibility. Many say, they are too busy or they don’t know enough about it. Well, in light of the fact that everyone has been forced to spend more time indoors, slow down and try new things, now may be a good time to try yoga.

It is hard to believe that yoga, which is now a cultural mainstay, was once considered a foreign practice.  An ancient discipline that totes numerous health benefits, yoga is meant to cultivate inner peace, enlightenment, and a strong relaxed body. In the past, only major cities housed yoga studios but over time yoga has spread into small towns across the country.  Studios offer a variety of classes and each promotes their own unique philosophy. Whether you are looking for a new workout regime, compliment to your current program or simply to quiet your mind in a hectic world, yoga may be an option for you. 

What is yoga?

Yoga is a discipline that developed over 5,000 years ago and is generally recognized as an ancient system for wellbeing. The word yoga, from the Sanskrit word “yuj”, literally means to yoke or to bind together.  The primary focus of yoga is to harmonize or unite the mind, body, and spirit through a combination of poses, breathing techniques, and meditation. 

Where did it come from?

The specific origin of yoga is a topic of debate.  However, it is said to have originated in India and was brought to the Western world by yoga gurus in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The basis for most current yoga practices is The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  In The Yoga Sutras, eight limbs of yoga are specified. The three most common limbs are meditation, pranayama or breathing exercises, and asana which are the physical poses.  Yoga classes can vary greatly, however, most classes include a combination of meditation, breathing exercises, and physical postures. 

Benefits of Yoga

So what is with all the hype?  Why has yoga become so popular?  Many would say it is due to its numerous mental and physical health benefits.  Research has shown that yoga, when practiced regularly, can reduces stress levels and even boost one’s immune system. Regular stretching releases tension in the body and the controlled breathing and mediation decrease anxiety. Studies show that those who practice yoga habitually can have decreased blood pressure and cholesterol making them less prone to heart disease. Other ailments which are shown to be positively impacted by yoga include insomnia, depression, and chronic pain including low back pain and headaches. Yoga is an excellent way to combat the negative effects of stress on the body and cope with anxiety and angst. 

In addition to stress reduction, yoga has many physical benefits.  These include increased flexibility, strength, and balance. Those who practice yoga regularly are often less prone to injury, such as a muscle strain or tear, due to their increased flexibility. Furthermore, yoga can be an effective way to strengthen one’s core which is crucial to maintaining ideal posture and protecting the back.  For athletes, yoga can be a great way to challenge one’s balance and improve stability.  In the elderly, it is a safe way to improve overall body awareness and decrease the risk of falling.  Yoga has also been shown to improve respiration and many report an overall increase in energy when incorporating yoga into their lives. 

With all of the positive impacts yoga has on the body it is easy to see why it has become such a popular form of exercise.  There are classes to meet almost all needs and most poses can be modified based on ability. Yoga can be practiced by those of all ages and all fitness levels. Whether you’re looking for a way to loosen up tight muscles or you simply wish to quiet your mind for an hour, yoga is a tool to improve and maintain health. The only thing you need is a mat and an open mind.  

Is yoga right for me? 

Yoga can be practiced by anyone. From children to adults to the elderly, there are classes for all ages and abilities.  It can be a form of cross training for athletes, especially runners who tend to have tight musculature.  It also promotes balance and core stability which may be beneficial to sportspersons including football players, soccer players, boxers, etc.  Furthermore, there are classes for the elderly which focus on balance and maintaining mobility. There are even prenatal yoga classes for pregnant women to promote deep breathing, flexibility and muscle tone.  

Next Week: Types of Yoga and Basic Poses

Guest Columnist: Catherine Heimrich, DPT is a doctor of physical therapy and is an associate at Mackarey & Mackarey Physical Therapy Consultants, LLC in downtown Scranton, where she works with outpatient orthopedic and neurological patients. She has a special interest in vestibular and balance problems. 

Read Dr. Mackarey’s "Health & Exercise Forum" in the Scranton Times-Tribune every Monday. Next Week: Yoga - Part 2

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor  in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.