Coronavirus: Can you do outdoor sports while social distancing?

By Charley Adams
BBC News

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People working from home and with dogs to walk could relish the chance to get some fresh air

Government guidelines recommending social distancing and non-essential contact with others due to the coronavirus outbreak has meant organised sport being put on hold.

Not only have major professional events that draw large audiences, including Premier League football, Six Nations rugby and the Grand National, been put on hold or cancelled, but mass participation events such as the London Marathon and Parkruns are off too.

However, some fitness fans and sports lovers are finding ways to still get exercise and a bit of fresh air without flouting advice to keep away from other people.

These people speak about the positive mental and physical benefits continuing to exercise has had.

'It's a good way to clear your head'

Image source, Jamie Dobson
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Jamie Dobson said he was missing running events due to Coronavirus

Jamie Dobson from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire, said he had still been going out running to help "break up" the day while working from home.

"It's good for your own mental wellbeing and good for social distancing - I've been keeping two metres apart from people," he said.

"I went out yesterday and I hardly saw anyone - it is a nice and easy way to keep isolated from people.

"It's a good way to clear your head and gives you a positive attitude for the rest of the day."

The keen runner said he was taking extra precautions, such as washing his gear after every run.

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Jamie, who normally takes part in Parkruns, said the organisation had advised people to still remain active, but not to form a replacement group.

The weekly Parkrun events have been suspended in the United Kingdom because of the pandemic.

'Easy to keep apart while playing'

Image source, Nick Gammon
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There were about 60 people playing on Wednesday and about two thirds were elderly

Nick Gammon, managing director of Trevose Golf Club, near Padstow in Cornwall, said the course was still open.

"Being out in the fresh air and moving around is good for people, so there is every reason for the course to be open," he said.

"Older people especially don't want to be sitting in their homes, being sedentary - but the guidance is changing all the time."

He said golfers were being advised to wear a glove if they touched the flags or rakes, to stand apart on the tees and greens and to tee off 10 minutes apart.

Golfing authorities have collaborated and offered advice to golfers, including sticking to social distancing rules of two metres while on tee grounds, greens and throughout the rounds and ensuring golfers only picked up their own ball.

'Important in these troubling times'

Image source, Polmartin Riding
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Riding centres are keen for people to get out into the fresh air

A riding centre near Liskeard, Cornwall, is keen for people to "get out into the fresh air" while taking necessary precautions to keep themselves safe.

"It's great for physical health as well as mental well being - vitally important in these troubling times," said chief instructor and owner of Polmartin Riding, Jane Jedwab.

"Away from the crowds of other risky social gatherings."

The centre is taking precautions such as restricting rides to a maximum of two riders and cleaning and disinfecting tack before and after each ride.

The Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS) has advised centres to "operate with caution" and include social distancing procedures "to protect the vulnerable".

"Horse riding is an outdoor activity but with the correct bio-security measures in place and maintained, horse riding can continue where it is safe and enjoyable to do so" added the ABRS.

'I hardly see anyone - except sheep'

Image source, Bikepacking Scotland
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Markus said he was trying to "keep it as safe as possible"

Markus Stitz has been cycling round Perthshire in Scotland and said it had been "physically and mentally really helpful".

"In terms of getting away from people, it's probably the best thing. During the day I hardly see anyone except from some sheep," he said.

"When I pass people I'm just making sure we're two metres apart - but I make sure I greet them with a smile.

"You are forced not to look at social media - yesterday I had a stretch of six hours without reception, I had to really focus."

The experienced cyclist from Edinburgh said he was being cautious and not putting himself in any danger to ensure the emergency services would not need to be called out.

Cycling UK has advised all member groups to cancel planned rides and events but said there was no reason people under the age of 70 needed to stop cycling.

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