Stay local and keep your social distance when exercising, the group said. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Stay local and keep your social distance when exercising, the group said. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

A group of major outdoor organisations in the UK has echoed the Prime Minister’s advice for the public to exercise close to home.

Boris Johnson said in Sunday’s press conference that exercise was important for people’s mental and physical wellbeing.

But he said, if the public did not adhere to social-distancing guidelines, the government would be forced to restrict access to more open spaces.

The move came following criticism of those who flocked to countryside honeypots at the weekend, including Snowdon, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. Snowdonia National Park Authority said Saturday was the busiest visitor day in its history.

Mountain rescue teams and national park authorities have urged people to seek outdoor recreation in their local area.

The group of 35 outdoor recreation bodies today said introducing a nationwide lockdown would increase people’s anxiety, social unrest and ill health.

The 35 bodies, which include the Ramblers, British Mountaineering Council, Mountaineering Scotland and the Open Spaces Society, as well as mountain training and outdoor instructors’ representative organisations, said they had been liaising together and talking to government departments and Public Health England during the coronavirus crisis.

They said: “In this time of national crisis, when almost all forms of indoor entertainment and social gatherings are severely restricted, a balance can be struck.

“As the Prime Minister outlined, we must preserve the health of the vulnerable and restrict the spread of Covid-19, while doing all that we can to maintain the mental, social and physical health of the nation.

“We endorse this approach and encourage the public to strictly follow social distancing guidance while exercising outside, close to home.

“A nation in lockdown could lead to enhanced anxiety, depression, social unrest, mental and physical ill health, and social poverty.

“In contrast, carefully managed local exercise, inside or outside, will provide welcome active release for individuals and families feeling trapped. Getting into the outdoors sensibly very close to our own homes now, will make it easier for all of us to sustain other official guidelines and preserve the health of the vulnerable in the longer term.

“Fully respecting the need for the ill and vulnerable to remain self-isolated, for those healthy individuals and families with no symptoms, getting active outside remains one of the very few tools left to fight the social impact of this disease.

“To the extent areas of the outdoors remain open, if you can get outside close to home while taking sensible precautions, then please do so. Now, possibly more than ever, staying active is vital to everyone’s physical and mental wellbeing.”

The group recommended the following:

  • Enjoy active outdoor recreation in your local area, while practising good social distancing at all times
  • Do not travel to popular tourist areas and reduce the risk of groups gathering in one place
  • Stay close to home – consider low risk, familiar activities in local areas, such as a local walk or run
  • Avoid public transport and social gatherings – keep active by travelling on foot or bike
  • Outdoor play and learning opportunities that reflect government guidelines are available to children, including those of key workers attending school.

Over the coming weeks, outdoor recreation organisations said they will use their networks to share ideas and online tutorials for staying active in and near the home. Content will cover a wide range of popular outdoor activities, with tips from experts and high-profile figures in the outdoor sector.

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