Sutham / Shutterstock.com

For everyone wondering whether the bus is a good place for burpees.

There seems to be some confusion lately about when it's OK to use city infrastructure for exercise, and when it isn't.

To be very clear, many canals are not for exercise. Underground electrified railways are not for exercise. Let's look more closely at the reasons why.

Yesterday, to celebrate Earth Day, long-distance swimmer Christopher Swain decided to take a dip in the Gowanus Canal as part of an effort to draw awareness to planetary pollution. It was (to put it mildly) a gross endeavor. As CityLab contributor Sarah Goodyear explained:

Swain will be swimming in a sealed drysuit, with gloves, silicone earplugs, goggles, and a cap. To avoid the chemical, viral, and bacterial contaminants that permeate the water (enterococcus! gonorrhea!) he will be employing the modified breast stroke (“like my grandmother did to keep her hair out of the water”).

He will still have to breathe, however, and his mouth will be open very close to the foul surface of the canal. Because of that, he will gargle with a hydrogen peroxide solution periodically, and plans to swallow an activated charcoal tablet if he accidentally swallows a mouthful of the Gowanus.

Meanwhile, today, a reporter for NBC4 in Washington, D.C., tweeted a picture of a woman executing a yoga stance in a D.C. Metrorail station. Doing yoga in a public-transit station would be bad enough, but this particular yogi was doing her handstand on the tracks.

It should go without saying, but this is a poor decision. The third rail is electrified; when people say that something is "the third rail of American politics," they mean metaphorically that it's a subject no one wants to touch, because touching the actual third rail in an electrified Metro line can literally kill you.

MacFarlane teased that the 11:00 news program would explain why this woman was performing a headstand of her own volition on the Metro tracks.

These things can be confusing. Should I play basketball on a dam? Is it OK to do burpees on this bus?

MTA

New York City's MTA has noticed this confusion, too. They helped clarify some of these questions, such as, "Is it advisable to break dance using a subway pole?" in the "Manners Matter, Courtesy Makes a Better Ride" campaign that rolled out in January. (In case you were wondering, yes, kicking other passengers in the face is generally frowned upon.)

So should you break a sweat? Here's a simple test. Just ask yourself these two questions:

Is it deadly to get on this infrastructure? If the answer is yes, it is not for exercise.

Is this infrastructure a park? When the answer's yes, then go ahead—go play.

Top image: Sutham / Shutterstock.com

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