Social distancing & exercise

After more than a month of home isolation and social distancing, luckily we are still able to leave home to exercise. We are seeing a large increase in the number of people running and exercising outdoors. Gyms are closed and group exercise classes suspended, but people are still looking for ways to stay active and look after their physical and mental well-being.

Given the current restrictions, exercise is deemed an essential reason for leaving the house. This however, has caused some confusion as to where it is safe to exercise and if we can travel for exercise. There have been reports of big fines being handed out for travel. There also appears to be difficulty to abide by social distancing recommendations, as our footpaths are experiencing high traffic. Here are some answers to your questions and tips to help you keep active and stay safe.

What distance is safe when running?

Side by side, distancing of 1.5m applies when we’re standing still. When exercising, social distancing recommendations differ. If you breathe, sneeze or cough, those particles stay behind in the air as you move on. The person running behind you in ‘slip-stream’ goes through this cloud of droplets.

According to a recent study, when running or cycling you may need to stay up to 20m from the person in front of you to allow extra time for particles to dissipate before you move into their area.

  • At a walking pace you should ideally allow 4-5m
  • If you are running you should allow at least 10m
  • When cycling fast you may need up to 20m

Therefore, you should find wider footpaths, with low foot traffic (avoid busy streets) and try going at a time of day that is quieter for your location. It is also recommended that you stay local as much as possible.

Can I travel for exercise?

The Victorian Health and Human Services have stated that “while it may be necessary to leave your immediate neighbourhood to undertake exercise…don’t travel any further than you have to”. 

Can I exercise with others?

You are allowed to exercise with one other person and maintain 1.5m apart. We recommend that you keep your “exercise buddy” consistent. You are allowed to exercise with someone you don’t live with if you abide by the social distancing rules, however if you can, we’d recommend exercising with someone from your own household.

House and backyard exercise

Now is the time to clear the floor space in your living room, set up your garage home gym, make use of your balcony, courtyard or backyard. You can try circuit training, pilates, yoga and strength training all in your own space.

At PMPP we have made live streamed exercise classes available most days of the week if you’re in need of some direction for exercise. Our classes run 30mins and you require minimal equipment. Give us a call to find out more information.

Take home messages

  1. Be strategic with the running or cycling track you choose and the time of day that you go
  2. Remember that social distancing rules of 1.5m is not enough if we are running or cycling
  3. See this as an opportunity to find better ways to exercise at home. It is the most efficient and safest method. If you don’t have equipment you can use milk bottles, fill drink bottles, bags of rice or your own body weight for an endless amount of exercises.

If you need any further guidance feel free to get in touch with us.

We also have different stretching guides and warm up routines that are free and downloadable from our website.

Stay active and stay safe.

Chee Yan Ting


Relevant links:

The Victorian Health and Human Services Q&A – https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus-stay-home-directions-frequently-asked-questions

Belgian-Dutch study – https://medium.com/@jurgenthoelen/belgian-dutch-study-why-in-times-of-covid-19-you-can-not-walk-run-bike-close-to-each-other-a5df19c77d08

Q&A of Belgian-Dutch study – https://medium.com/@jurgenthoelen/why-in-times-of-covid-19-you-should-not-walk-run-bike-close-behind-each-other-follow-up-with-q-a-ca44e12cc54d

Department of Health website – https://www.health.gov.au/

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