Here in the UK and around the globe we are all facing huge changes to our daily lives due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Since March many countries have been in lockdown with residents allowed outside for only certain activities. In the UK outdoor exercise has been on the allowed list throughout. Initially everyone was permitted to go out for exercise once per day for an hour, while following strict social distancing guidelines. Since May 2020 the guidance has been altered to allow unlimited exercise, but social distancing rules remain.
Exercise is more important now than ever. With many peoples usually active lifestyle at a standstill and gym facilities, both indoor and outdoor, closed it is easy to become more sedentary. Add to this boredom eating, and the negative mental health effects of such a drastic lifestyle change, exercise could be a helpful focus for many people. So, we thought we would take a look at the different types of exercise available, the social distancing guidance for each and how you can get started if your usual exercise type is currently unavailable.
Social Distance Running
In the UK running has been one of the go-to activities throughout the Covid-19 lockdown, and it is easy to see why. Most people can have a go at running even if they have never done it before, there are loads of free/cheap apps to help get you started such as Couch to 5K Runner. The only equipment that is essential is a pair of running trainers, and you can do it by yourself or with other family members.
If you already go out running or are inspired to give it a go after almost two months of lockdown, there are just a few things to bear in mind to ensure that you comply with social distancing rules.
- Maintain a 2-metre distance wherever possible – as a runner you are likely to overtake people walking on the pavement, be sure to do so at a safe distance, consider crossing the road or stepping into the road if safe to do so.
- Consider running in less frequented areas if possible.
- If you see other people that you know when out running and decide to stop for a catch-up or to run together, remember to maintain a 2metre distance at all times.
Of course, during these times running groups are suspended, but you can run with other members of your household. Now may be a great time to introduce the kids to the pleasures of running.
Cycling During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Cycling is another fantastic exercise to consider during the Covid-19 pandemic. If you have a bike and cycle helmet you are equipped to go, if not, in the UK cycle shops remained on the ‘allowed to open list’ meaning that purchasing a bike and essential accessories is still possible if funds allow. On your own bike, cycling on the road maintaining a social distance is relatively easy to achieve.
A bonus to cycling during these times is that with people advised to stay home the roads are unusually quiet making it much safer than usually for cyclists to be on the roads. Many keen cyclists like to head out onto country roads where possible, meaning that passing pedestrians is relatively uncommon too. However, if you are cycling in towns and cities be aware of cycling too close to pedestrians on the pavement and move toward the centre of the road where possible to maintain a two-metre distance.
Walking/Hiking During Covid-19
Walking is another obvious, and easy way for most people to get some exercise and fresh air during the Coronavirus lockdown. Wherever you live it is likely that you can leave your house and take a walk, whether through a city or a village. Those living more rurally are likely to have an abundance of countryside walks on their doorstep, but with reduced traffic there are likely to be pleasant walks even in cities.
Since 13th May 2020 the rules have been further relaxed allowing you to travel for exercise. This means that for those living in cities it is now possible to travel to areas of natural interest for walks/hikes in the countryside taking a picnic for a pleasant family day out. Do be aware that many outdoor attractions remained closed to avoid an abundance of visitors, and as such we would advise that you stay as close to home as possible while enjoying the benefits of walking or hiking.
Walking or hiking are great forms of exercise for most people. Whether as a family, a couple or on your own fresh air and countryside are fantastic for physical and mental health. Rambling over the terrain of the Peak District or a gentle wander around Hyde Park can really be beneficial for boosting mood and getting the cardiovascular system pumping.
Top tips for walking while social distancing
- Stay at least 2 metres away from people who are not part of your household,
- Park considerately in popular beauty spots.
- Take a picnic or sunbathe but do so away from other people and be sure to take your litter home.
- If you are walking/hiking in the countryside be respectful of farmland and animals and be sure to close any gates after going through them.
Tennis with Social Distancing
As of the updated guidelines in the UK from mid-May 2020 a wide range of sports and activities is available. For instance, playing tennis is now permitted. The nature of a tennis court allows perfectly for social distancing in a 1 v 1 match. You can play with members of your household, or even someone from outside your household providing social distancing is maintained at all times.
To play tennis safely we advise:
- Bring your own equipment and refreshment.
- Travel to and from the court separately.
- Stay on your own side of the court throughout
- Avoid the often-customary good game handshake.
- Book your court in advance where possible to avoid any waiting.
Golf Great for the Mind and Body
Playing golf like tennis is now allowed under the updated exercise guidance. Golf courses are usually large, open areas, which present a much lower risk for transmission of coronavirus. Whether you choose to head out alone, with family or meet a friend playing golf is perfect for getting out in the fresh air. Walking around the golf course is great physical exercise, and the whole experience can have a positive impact on mental health.
If you choose to meet a friend to play a round of golf be sure to maintain social distancing at all times. This means travelling to and from the course separately, not sharing a golf buggy, if applicable, and staying at least 2m apart when walking the course.
Other Permitted Exercise
Obviously, exercise is not just limited to those activities mentioned above. If you have a preferred sport and are unsure whether it can resume contact the local group for that particular sport online for more information. For example, local to us in Staffordshire there is a large canoeing community, they have set out their guidelines to allow canoeist back onto the river while upholding social distancing and safety guidelines. Likewise, with relaxed travel rules you could head out with your family to a beach and fly a kite if you chose to do so.
As a rule of thumb, if the sport is outside, is solitary or done in pairs and social distancing can be maintained between people living in different households it is likely that you will be able to resume under the current guidance. Whereas, a sport such as badminton that follows the same process as tennis but is played indoors, is unlikely to be allowed under current guidelines as it is thought that Covid-19 spreads more easily inside than out, and as such sports centres remain closed.
Team sports such as football, basketball and rugby are not yet fully allowed. However, you are allowed to play such sports with members of your household in local parks or areas of recreation. You must be sure to maintain social distancing from other households, and you cannot invite friends or other people to join you. Police have been given powers to give larger fines of £100 to people found to be flouting the social distancing rules.
Obviously, if you have a large enough garden you can play any sports with other members of your household. You can still purchase equipment such as football goals or basketball hoops either online or from hardware retailers such as B&Q or other stores that remain open such as B&M or supermarkets.
Staying Healthy During Covid-19
Exercise is fantastic to do with the kids and/or partner but may also offer the ideal opportunity for some alone time and a mental break from the 24/7 demands where you are all at home together for prolonged periods of time. As we have demonstrated there are lots of options for a varied exercise routine, while also maintaining social distancing guidance. Mix it up between some lone exercise and family orientated activities to stave off boredom and maintain a good level of physical and mental health throughout the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.
As important as it is to exercise to maintain your health, please do stay at home if you have a fever or a cough or any other symptoms that may indicate you have Coronavirus.
For sports and fitness equipment as well as clothing and accessories for running, cycling and more take a look at our Sports Fitness online shop. We ship worldwide and are still dispatching orders throughout the current crisis.