On 23rd March Boris Johnson announced that in order to slow down the spread of the Coronavirus that we should stay indoors, and only leave the house for essential shopping (such as a weekly food shop or for getting medication), if you are caring for someone else, or for daily exercise.
This is all good advice, and it appears as if this lockdown is stopping to spread the Coronavirus, but it does limit the amount of miles that you can walk. But let’s face it, it will be much better to be safe and healthy and able to walk when this is all over, rather than a statistic.
But I felt it was important to write about how to go for walks during the Coronavirus lockdown, and give you an insight to what myself and Nicky are doing.
I would like to add though that I am not a doctor, I do not have all the up to date facts and advice, which are changing almost daily, so it will be wise to keep a close ear to the news and Government advice.
When and why are you allowed to leave the house?
There are 3 main reasons for leaving the house. These are:
Essential Food Shopping
If at all possible, try to only go shopping once a week. I know that isn’t always easy, but this is the time when you really need to be organised, and write a list!
Go shopping alone – it is not the time to drag the whole family out. And let’s be honest, it’s a lot easier to get round without the kids, and you know your other half will be sneaking all those naughty treats into the trolley. But we should all be trying to lessen the risk of catching and spreading the virus, so people really need to be staying at home.
Supermarkets are doing their best to help, in the main. Some are limiting the number of people allowed in the store at any one time, so you may have to queue up outside, and probably in 2 metre marks from each other. Some stores are supplying disinfectant wipes when you get your trolley, there are marks at the tills to keep people 2 metres apart, and the cashiers are being shielded by perspex screens.
But not all supermarkets are yet taking all these precautions, so you should also help yourself. If possible, wear latex gloves and a face mask when you go shopping. This will not only protect yourself but if you do sneeze or cough then you will not spread any germs.
You can go out to get medications – life goes on, and obviously other illnesses don’t disappear when a pandemic comes along, so you can go and get medications from pharmacies. But check first which ones are open and the hours they are keeping – with more people working from home these days then they may well be different than normal.
Of course, if you are experiencing any symptoms of coronavirus yourself, then you should not be out shopping at all, but should rely on family and friends to do your shopping for you, and they can take to your home, leaving outside so they don;t get into close contact with you.
Caring for someone else
If you provide care for someone else, maybe an elderly relative or neighbour, then of course they will still be relying on you for that care. Presuming that you, and all in your household, are well then you can leave your house to care for them.
However, if you do find that you are at all ill, you certainly don’t want to be putting someone who is less independent under any bigger chance of themselves falling ill. As well as this possibly spreading any illness, not necessarily coronavirus, but you may also be putting undue pressure on the NHS at a time when they are struggling to contain the pandemic.
This is the area that is causing the most amount of confusion with people. Boris advised that we can leave the house once a day for exercise, such as going for a walk, run or bike ride. But some people seem to not be following common sense.
You should not be driving to your destination – no trips to the coast or to your favourite walk 20 miles away – you need to start your walk (run or cycle ride) from your door. And you definitely shouldn’t be meeting up with other households to go for a walk! If you are going for a walk as your own neighbourhood, you can stick together ok.
But if you meet other people out you should give them some space – it has been recommended that we keep 2 metres apart. This is because when you sneeze the germs from your nose will travel up to that distance. So when you see people approaching, even if they are friends of yours, you should give them at least a 2 metre gap between you and them. You can still have a conversation, but you may want to raise your voice a little more than normal.
It is important at all times to keep fit and healthy, and as such exercise is essential, but do your best to limit the time out of your house to a maximum of an hour.
Of course only walking from your front door will mean that you will be going on the same routes – but this is a perfect opportunity to explore your very near neighbourhood for the first time. You may have driven past a particular road but never been down it – where does it lead?
The best thing, especially if you have children with you, is to keep it as fun as possible, so make up games as you go. And there are lots of children posting pictures in their windows, so why not go and look at some artwork.
Exercising at home
If you have a garden, then this is the perfect time to get out in the garden. You can tidy it up, work on your veg patch, do the weeding. This will all help keep you active and fit. And of course you can play in your garden – a game of football or badminton perhaps?
You can also exercise indoors. If you have a treadmill then you could use this to walk or run, a good way of getting the miles in. But not many people will do.
If you don’t have any exercise equipment at home then there are plenty of things to do. Lots of fitness instructors are providing online classes, so just head over to YouTube and see what is available. Joe Wicks has set the benchmark by providing a daily pe class for students, but you don’t have to be a child to follow along.
What we are doing
So, we are at complete opposites of activity. As you may know, myself and Nicky don’t live together. Nicky is going out each morning as usual to walk our dog Paco. But instead of going out at 7 like she usually would, she’s setting the alarm even earlier and off out by about 5.30 each morning!
She’s doing this so she doesn’t meet too many people, especially as some people seem to worry that dogs can transmit the disease. (At present, the only thing we have heard is that if an infected person strokes a dog then you stroke the dog, there is a chance that the virus could be transmitted that way). By avoiding as man people as possible, Paco won’t be able to run up to people and be stroked.
I’m working from home, rather than catching the train to my workplace, so I am not getting much exercise at all. I would normally cover about 3 miles in a normal day just getting to work and back, round the office, and a short walk at lunchtime. Living in a flat I don’t even have a garden to go in, so my miles are almost non-existent.
I am also very conscious about trying to stay in. As a bowls player many of my friends are 60 plus, so I am conscious that I don’t want to catch anything, even though I’m not seeing anyone at present. And being chained to my laptop isn’t helping!
**Update** – Since publishing this post, a further 3 week extension of the lockdown has been announced. I have decided that, with the majority of steps being between my lounge and my kitchen, and with my ever exceeding waistline, that I do need to get out more regularly. So I have started to go out for a walk every day. I am up to about 8,000 steps a day, roughly 3 miles, which, considering the circumstances, I feel much better about.
Stay safe, stay at home
As much as possible, try to stay home. If you are worried about not getting enough steps into your day, try to get inventive. If you are not working then you may want to find fun ways to step a little more. Tidying up a room, take out one bag of rubbish at a time; play hide and seek with the kids, and if you don’t have kids then why not hide a particular object; play games in the garden.
It’s at difficult times that we all need to stick together, be supportive, and get through this as best as we all can.
Stay safe everyone, and stay at home as much as possible.
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