Experts react to the idea of banning exercise outside the home – Runner’s World (UK)

Posted: April 10, 2020 at 2:47 am


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On Sunday, 5 April, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he wouldnt rule out a potential ban on exercise outside the home if people didnt comply with social-distancing rules. In a press conference later that day, he added that the government had no imminent plans to do so, but further steps could not be ruled out. For now, rules allow us to go outside to the shops for essentials and for one form of exercise per day. The idea that exercise might be stopped completely rang alarm bells for many, and several health experts have reacted to the news.

Professor John Edmunds, Professor in the Centre for the Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, explained how the risk of transmission was greatly reduced outdoors. There are three potential routes of transmission: via fomites (contact with an infected surface, such as a door handle); via aerosols (tiny particles that can stay suspended in the air); and droplets (larger particles that rapidly fall to the ground). The first two of these routes would be reduced to virtually zero out of doors, as you are much less likely to touch an infected surface, and suspended particles will be massively diluted by the fresh air and the viral particles that they contain rapidly destroyed by desiccation and UV light.

This leaves droplets. As long as you keep a reasonable distance away from others, your risk will also be reduced to extremely low levels.

According to Edmunds, banning people from going outdoors to exercise would have a negligible impact on the epidemiology of this disease but a marked impact on peoples mental health and wellbeing.

Professor Linda Bauld, Bruce and John Usher Professor of Public Health and CPHS Co-Director at the Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh, also touched on the detrimental impact a ban on exercise could have to the nations mental health. The health implications of the lockdown that we anticipate increased alcohol consumption, domestic violence, anxiety and depression, poor diet and decreased physical activity will get worse if we confine more of us to our homes without the hugely important respite that outdoor exercise provides, said Bauld. She believes stronger scientific evidence about viral transmission would be needed to justify the ban, and that enforcement measures were key to ensuring people followed the rules.

Bauld also questioned whether those making the decisions, who were still going outside to travel to meetings, simply dont understand the impact that further restrictions will have on millions of people in the UK.

And Keith Neal, Emeritus Professor of the Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases at the University of Nottingham, touched on the importance of exercise in the bodys response to COVID-19. Exercise reduces blood pressure and obesity, and can improve diabetes control in people with type 2 diabetes. These are all very common conditions and also, importantly, risk factors for severity in COVID-19 infections. Small increases in very common risk factors can have large effects. This could potentially lead to an increase in people needing hospitalisation and critical care, he said.

He added that it is perfectly possible to exercise once a day and pose no risk to others or yourself, and that there needs to be better enforcement of the rules, rather than further restrictions.

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Experts react to the idea of banning exercise outside the home - Runner's World (UK)

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April 10th, 2020 at 2:47 am

Posted in Diet and Exercise