Every week we bring you a simple idea for reducing your carbon footprint and protecting the planet. This week: how to enjoy nature while observing social distancing guidelines.

The global outbreak of coronavirus has changed everyday life for people around the world as governments instigate measures to control the spread of the illness. For some, that means remaining entirely confined to their homes. For others – here in the UK, for example – people are still permitted to leave their homes once a day for exercise. And you don’t have to be a budding marathon runner to take advantage of this – walking counts (and it’s really good for you). However, this guidance is constantly changing, so keep on top of the latest advice at the government advisory site here.

In accordance with current guidelines, you’re not allowed to drive anywhere in order to take your exercise – you must do it near your home. Fortunately, though, there are plenty of local places that be explored safely, even if you don’t live near a vast wilderness or woodland – and there are a lot of resources available to help you find them.

The Ramblers charity, for example, lets you search paths, parks and countryside areas based on your location (remember, many national parks have now closed their carparks to prevent people travelling to their sites).

Walking Britain, meanwhile, lets you search for circular walking routes as well as short trails – just enter your postcode to find the nearest 20 walks to your chosen location.

Then there’s Discovering Britain, which is home to a vast library of walk suggestions, from long treks and city strolls which take in the local landmarks, to urban walking routes and coastal trails – again, all searchable based on your location.

Many of these routes are ‘off the beaten track’, so they’re likely to be quieter than your local high street or park. Nonetheless, it’s absolutely critical that you practice proper social distancing wherever you take your exercise. This means:

  • Going out only once per day.
  • Staying local to your home – don’t drive to a walking trail.
  • Walking only with the people you live with, or by yourself – don’t meet up with others.
  • Staying two metres (six feet) away from anyone else you may encounter.
  • Not petting or fussing any dogs you may encounter, as some research suggests their fur may be able to transmit the virus.
  • Being sensible about footfall – if there appear to be a lot of people on your path, choose a different route.
  • Washing your hands thoroughly as soon as you get home.

The bottom line

It’s well-documented that moderate exercise and being among nature is good for your wellbeing – and keeping well in both body and mind is more important now than ever before. It’s absolutely vital that everyone follows the government guidelines around social distancing – observe them properly and you can still enjoy our wonderful natural environment.

We would love to hear your comments and stories about the issues raised in this article:




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