Keep fit safely and responsibly, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Keep fit safely and responsibly

This article is more than 12 months old

Is keeping a 10m distance away from others while exercising enough? Experts don't think so.

A recent study by European researchers concluded that people should exercise even further away from one another than they are currently advised in order to protect themselves from Covid-19 infection.

But that has raised eyebrows among some experts that The New Paper spoke to.

The study, which used virtual aerodynamics simulations, recommended that those running and cycling slowly should keep at least 10m away from others, especially if directly behind someone, as saliva particles spread further when we exhale, cough or sneeze during exercise.

Infectious diseases expert Gregory Poland, head of vaccine research at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota in the US, told TNP: “Models use assumptions. We don’t know from this paper how they modelled humidity, temperature, wind speed, and amount of UV light... caution would suggest maintaining appropriate distancing as recommended by the World Health Organisation.”

Dr Chia Shi-Lu, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health, also commented that one’s exposure to virus particles is not merely a function of droplets and airflow, but also has to do with time.

This comes amid concerns from authorities over large crowds at parks here after “circuit breaker” measures took effect last Tuesday, prompting National Development Minister Lawrence Wong to warn people not to travel beyond their neighbourhood to other parks for exercise, and that entry to parks will be strictly controlled if necessary.

Under new regulations, people are allowed to exercise in parks, although they should be alone, or with members of the same household.

Dr Chia said he was worried by reports about people flocking to parks.

He added: “If there are crowds of people (at parks), the possibility of a person having prolonged contact with others is higher.”

Meanwhile, the Singapore Cycling Federation urged cyclists on Saturday to maintain a 20m-gap between themselves and riders from separate households if cycling outdoors, in line with the study’s  recommendation for those cycling at high speeds.

As an added precaution, park-goers should wear masks on top of practising safe distancing, said Dr Poland. 

However, Dr Chia acknowledged that wearing masks during exercise could be difficult for most people.

President of social cycling club Anza Cycling Megan Kinder added: “Unless cyclists have a specially designed mask with a respirator, it can be particularly uncomfortable and difficult to breathe if out cycling for anything more than about 10 minutes.”

Ms Kinder said cyclists should avoid park connectors and paths popular with walkers, runners and families, or go out at quieter times of the day, such as early in the morning or later at night.

Likewise, running coach Lexus Tan, who has been involved with running clubs here for close to 35 years, said he has advised his team members to keep to running within their estate, preferably alone.