explainer

What counts as exercise? Exactly what physical activity you can and can't do this weekend.

As COVID-19 rules and restrictions are constantly updating, it is hard to know what we are actually allowed to do from day to day. Especially when every state’s rules vary.

Whilst the overall message prefaces that staying home is essential to limit the spread of coronavirus, most of us are still legally allowed to get outside and exercise. 

If, however, you have been diagnosed with coronavirus, or are in quarantine after returning from overseas, you are not permitted to go outside, even just for a walk around the block.

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But for those of us who don’t belong to either of those categories, what exactly counts as exercise?

Whether that be running, surfing or playing golf, here is exactly what exercise you can and can’t do this weekend.

Walking

Walking is allowed and more importantly, advised. It is great for both your physical and mental health. However, there are rules in place so you can do it safely.

From March 30, all public gatherings are now limited to two persons in public spaces and other areas of gatherings, meaning this has to be followed during all outdoor activities too.

Therefore, if you want to walk around the block or in a park with one other person that is fine, however, any more than that is not allowed.

This week, NSW Police have been handing out warnings to those not observing these rules at popular locations like Coogee Beach, Rushcutters Bay and Centennial Park. In Victoria, police will be approaching people hanging out in groups of more than two. Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton was asked on the ABC if two friends with babies could go for a walk together. His answer: No.

For more information on what you can and can’t do in a park, read our earlier article here. 

Running

You are safe to go for a run as long as you stay away from others. As the rules stipulate, people need to be 1.5 metres away apart, so ensuring that this is implemented with any outdoor activity is key.

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Furthermore, it is best to exercise in areas that are less likely to attract crowds, because not only does that limit contact between you and other people, it also ensures that we can continue to go outside without worrying that a ban will soon be put in place.

But do runners and those near them need to be more careful? Dr Norman Swan thinks so.

“When I’m out running I steer clear of other people, and I certainly steer clear of runners coming towards me, because these, in a sense, project that bigger tidal volume, that bigger depth of breathing and rapid breathing,” he said. “If they had COVID-19, then they could actually be spraying it out more than normal.”

Ball games

Ball games are a bit more of a grey area as there haven’t been any exact rules implemented, but as long as you remember to social distance and use common sense, you should be fine.

So, if you’re thinking of taking your son or daughter to the park and kicking the ball between each other, go for it. However, group games such as basketball and rugby are not permitted.

Hiking

There are also no definitive hiking dos and don’ts, but considering most national parks and walking tracks are closed, your options are limited.

Furthermore, the Federal Government has stated that exercise is an essential activity that is best done in your own neighbourhood. (So don’t go for a long drive just to get to a park you like. Rather walk around your block or to the nearest park.)

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Fishing

While each state has varying rules on fishing, Victoria is the first state to declare an outright ban on various recreational activities, with fishing being one of them.

“Hang up your rods, leave the tinnie in the driveway, and clean your (golf) clubs at home,” Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, said on Thursday.

“These restrictions are tough, but they are there for a reason. If we don’t do this, Victorians will die.”

However, in New South Wales fishing can continue, and in Queensland, you are allowed to travel by boat or catch fish only for the purposes of travel and catching fish.

Golf

As stated above, Victoria has banned playing golf for the time being. However, it will still be allowed in Queensland and New South Wales after a backflip from those respective state governments.

sydney-golf
A Sydney golf course on April 2. Image: Getty.
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In Tasmania, golf courses can remain open but must limit active players to two per hole at any given time.

But remember that many private clubs have closed their courses for the time being, so check their websites before you plan on attending.

Tennis

Thanks to singles tennis, the playing of this game has been given the green light in New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Meaning two people can play a game of tennis, however, any more than that is not allowed.

However, in Victoria tennis courts have been closed until at least April 13.

The latest advice from tennis officials in the states of ACT, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia is that all venues should be close until further notice.

Surfing

Again, surfing is a sport that is still allowed in many states, as long as social distancing practices are in place. Both South Australia and New South Wales are allowing people to continue to surf.

However, with many beaches closing, it obviously isn't always possible.

All in all, if you want to exercise this weekend, remember the guidelines provided by the Federal Government. Keep 1.5 metres away from other people and socialise with no more than one other person outside your home. If you follow these rules, you can still happily do some form of physical activity.

Read more on COVID-19:

To protect yourself and the community from COVID-19, remain in your home unless strictly necessary, keep at least 1.5 metres away from other people, regularly wash your hands and avoid touching your face.

If you are sick and believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP ahead of time to book an appointment. Or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 000. 

To keep up to date with the latest information, please visit the Department of Health website.

Feature image: Getty.

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