Can you still go for walks if you’re social distancing or self-isolating?March 23, 2020
It feels like an additional kick in the teeth that this global pandemic is hitting its peak in the UK just we turn the corner into spring.
The days are finally getting longer, the temperature is rising, the birds are singing and the blossom is out. But all the advice is to stay indoors.
All the markers of spring and new life are diametrically opposed to the frankly apocalyptic scenes on the news and deserted streets in the UK’s major cities. And we are in this for the long haul.
The latest advice is to self-isolate if you fall under a vulnerable category (older, pregnant or have underlying health conditions), and social distancing for everyone else.
But does that mean you literally can’t go outside? Even on your own?
Fresh air and some gentle exercise could do a world of good for everyone’s mental health during these pretty scary times, but we also need to make sure we’re being as responsible as possible. So what’s the official line?
Can you go for walks if you’re social distancing?
So, first you need to understand what social distancing actually means.
The Government guidance says that for healthy, younger people who are social distancing, they should avoid contact with anyone displaying symptoms, avoid gatherings with friends and family and avoid larger gatherings in spaces like pubs, bars, restaurants, cinemas and theatres.
They should also work from home where possible and avoid all non-essential travel.
So, what about walks?
The Government advise says that you can go for walks outside – as long as you stay two-feet away from others.
Which is great news. All you have to do is make sure you choose a walking route that isn’t likely to be too congested. If you have some wide, open space nearby, head there.
‘At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which in turn can make you feel worse,’ reads the Government website. ‘There are simple things you can do that may help, to stay mentally and physically active during this time.’
As well as going for walks, officials also advise keeping windows open for fresh air, going into the garden if you have one, eating healthily and getting enough exercise.
Can you go for walks if you are self-isolating?
If you are experiencing symptoms and live alone, you should self-isolate for seven days. If you live with other people, the whole household will need to isolate for 14 days.
Isolation means not leaving your home, at all. Or even opening the door to receive a delivery directly. So, no walks.
Additionally, if you are isolating, you should try to keep at least two metres (three steps) away from other people in your home, particularly people over 70, or those with long-term health conditions.
And you shouldn’t have any visitors over.
When to use the NHS 111 coronavirus service
you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
your condition gets worse
your symptoms do not get better after 7 days
But, even though you can’t go for walks, there are other ways to look after your mood and your mental wellbeing.
If you’re feeling well and healthy, you can try exercising at home with simple bodyweight exercises that don’t require any equipment.
Also, make sure you stay connected with your family and social circles using technology. Use Skype or video calling to provide a feeling of closeness.
Step away from the news. It’s OK to turn it off, particularly if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Check for updates from verified sources twice per day to stay in the loop without drowning in information.
The Government are now conducting daily press briefings with the latest guidance. As the situation is changing so rapidly, make sure you check the official website before deciding to go to a public space.