Exercise on lockdown: How long can you go out for exercise?

Exercise is more important than ever for many given people are now forced to remain at home except for essential reasons to slow the spread of coronavirus. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said people can now go out to exercise, but how long can you exercise for under UK lockdown rules?


Boris Johnson escalated Britain’s response to the coronavirus outbreak in March, implementing sweeping new measures to protect the NHS and save lives.

The Government primarily introduced three new measures:

  • Requiring everyone to stay at home and only permitting them to leave their homes to buy essentials, exercise, medical need or to travel to or from work.
  • Ordering all non-essential shops and community spaces must shut.
  • Banning all gatherings of more than two people in public.

Lockdown restrictions have now been extended to at least May 7.


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On March 23, Mr Johnson addressed the nation advising all Britons to stay at home.

He said: “You must stay at home.

“Because the critical thing we must do is stop the disease spreading between households.

“That is why people will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes.”

These limited reasons are:

  • Shopping for basic necessities, such as medicine and food, as infrequently as possible.
  • One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle, alone or with members of your household.
  • Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

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Mr Johnson added: “You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say no.

“You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home.

“You should not be going shopping except for essentials like food and medicine – and you should do this as little as you can.

“And use food delivery services where you can.

“If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.”

Since this initial announcement, the Government has said people should “stay local” and not travel unnecessarily for exercise.

Authorities have issued new advice which clarifies that people should use “open spaces” near to home, where possible.

The announcement followed confusion over whether people could drive somewhere to go walking, running, or cycling.

The Government has said people are still able to go to the park for outdoor exercise once a day but only alone or with members of your household, not in groups.

Communal places within parks such as sports courts, playgrounds and outdoor gyms have been closed to protect everyone’s health.

The Government urges people to use parks responsibly and maintain two metres apart from others at all times, unless you are members of the same household.

The police have said people are permitted to travel for exercise as long as the drive is not longer than the duration of exercise.

But how long exactly can you go out for exercise?

Michael Gove appeared on the Andrew Marr show last month where he discussed guidance for fitness.

He said: “Obviously it depends on each individual’s fitness.

“But I would have thought that for most a walk of up to an hour, or a run of 30 minutes, or a cycle.”

The police have issued for stringent and clear guidance about exercise outlining that people can drive to do a country walk, so long as the walk is longer than the drive.

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