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27 May 2020

Walking and cycling while social distancing

The country's intelligent lockdown is about to be eased. We still want to ensure that the coronavirus cannot rapidly spread, but people will be given more freedom, as exercise benefits everyone. In his speech on 6 May, Prime Minister Rutte again emphasized the following: ‘Where you can, either walk or cycle – but avoid crowds’. Below, we will list the benefits of and the questions relating to the risks concerning cycling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Benefit 1: exercise is healthy

We are currently working from home where possible, helping others where we can, and staying inside as much as possible. However, spending a lot of time indoors results in lots of inactivity. It is very beneficial to your health to exercise – even 30 minutes of exercise every day will keep you fit. Cycling is an excellent alternative to going to the gym, as the gyms will remain closed. Exercise can also prevent serious illnesses and reduce the chances of becoming depressed. Walking and cycling are easy ways to burn calories. Cycling or walking regularly is a fun way to prevent obesity or Type II diabetes. Make sure to get on your bicycle now and again to enjoy the fresh air.

Benefit 2: cycling keeps you mobile

The lockdown measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak have made our world significantly smaller. However, many people are not able to work from home. If you decide to cycle to work, then your chances of catching the coronavirus are small (especially when compared with your chances when taking public transport). Virologists have stated that cycling is good for your lungs. They recommend cycling, as long as you avoid large groups. Cycling or walking with your partner is allowed, as long as you adhere to the RIVM guidelines. Maintain 1.5-metres distance, wash your hands, sneeze or cough into your elbow, and use paper tissues. You can also use your bicycle to go shopping. Why not help others out and do some shopping for one of your vulnerable neighbours while you're out?

Benefit 3: the work-life balance

Working from home means you don't need to commute, so schedule a cycle or walk before you start work. This will prevent you from working for too long. Consider going for a relaxing bicycle ride after a day of working from home, or put on your walking shoes for a nice walk. Both activities are good for your body and mind. This is because it is important for you to distance yourself from your work at the end of the working day and to reset your senses. Many people say they enjoy their spare time at home much more afterwards. They also say they work more efficiently in the afternoon after a walk during their lunch break.

Questions about risks

Naturally, there are also question concerning potential dangers. For example, we currently do not know whether the virus can survive on buttons at pedestrian crossings. Previous research showed that the virus cannot survive for long in the air outside and when exposed to sunlight. However, if someone coughs into their hand and then pushes the button at a pedestrian crossing before you push the button, then you may be at risk of catching the coronavirus. Try to cough into your elbow, or to push the button with your elbow. If you use your hand or finger to touch a surface, then do not touch your face until you have washed your hands. You can borrow a bicycle or use a shared bicycle if the handlebars and saddle have been thoroughly cleaned. Make sure you clean it before use, or confirm with a member of staff that the bicycle has been cleaned.

Is it safe to exercise outside? Yes!

  • Maintain 1.5-metres distance.
  • Do not cycle or walk together in groups.
  • Maintain reasonable distance behind cyclists in front of you.
  • Avoid crowded areas.
  • When waiting at a pedestrian crossing, queue behind other people (at a safe distance) instead of standing next to them.
  • Do not take any risks that may result in accidents. Ensure that we do not further burden hospitals.
  • Borrow bicycles or use shared bicycles only after they have been cleaned properly.
  • Wash your hands after cycling.
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