Lockdown exercise rules: What you can and can’t do in England this November

The rules are a little different to last time.
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  • It’s long-since been known that as well as keeping us physically in shape, exercise can do wonders for our mental and emotional health.

    So what are the lockdown exercise rules for November? It’s a question that many people, keen gym-goers and casual walkers alike, have been wondering as we head into a second national lockdown in England.

    The exercise rules for the first lockdown were strict. In March, people were only allowed to go out for exercise once a day a for one hour and could be fined if they were found to be breaching the rules. As lockdown restrictions eased, unlimited exercise was allowed -but gyms and exercise studios had to remain closed.

    So what are the rules for exercise during lockdown this time around? And who can we exercise with? What are the rules on exercising under the UK self-isolation rules? In the first lockdown, exercise was strictly to be had either solo or with members of your own household (or later on, with your support bubble). However this time the rules have changed. 

    This is what you need to know about the lockdown exercise rules for November…

    Lockdown exercise rules: Where can you go to work out?

    Indoor gyms and all leisure centres will be closing during lockdown. So exercise indoors will be strictly limited to within your own home. 

    In terms of exercise outdoors, those looking to go for a run, walk or cycle can – and are encouraged to do so. 

    This means that you can exercise in your local park or public outdoor space, including on beaches, as long as you maintain a 2-metre distance from those outside your household or support bubble.

    A woman doing yoga outside

    That might be going for a run or other cardio activity, or it could be practicing pilates or yoga. The government hasn’t specified that people cannot remain in one place to exercise, unlike last time when officials prohibited any loitering during exercise. 

    However, the government have confirmed that golf courses and tennis courts will not be open during the lockdown throughout November. 

    Indoor gyms have certainly closed but outdoor gyms, often found near playgrounds (which will also stay open), are still available for use. 

    outdoor exercise chat for lockdown

    Credit: Alamy

    Who can you work out with?

    In general, the government guidance for the November lockdown is to ‘stay at home’ where possible and not meet other people socially. However they have said, “you can exercise or meet in a public, outdoors space with people you live with, your support bubble or with one other person.” 

    This means that a person can meet with one other person outside of their support bubble or household as part of the lockdown exercise rules. However, it’s been stressed that this must only be one other person and doesn’t mean one other household. 

    Children under the age of five years old, as well as disabled people who are dependent on round-the-clock care, are not counted towards the limit, so this is the only instance where more than two people can meet outside for exercise. 

    How long can you work out for?

    Family on bike ride during lockdown

    Credit: Alamy

    In the first stage of the first lockdown, people were only allowed to exercise outside of their homes for one hour a day. This time, there is unlimited exercise allowed.

    So whether you’re still wanting to get training in for next year’s London Marathon or just want to keep your steps up over the lockdown, there’s plenty of ways to keep active in winter. 

    How far can I travel for exercise?

    The government has advised people to stay local if they can, but if you don’t live near outdoor space you are allowed to travel to one. 

    If possible, however, travelling to an outdoor space for exercise should be done either by running, walking, cycling or in a private vehicle (alone or with other members of your household only). 

    What are the benefits of exercise during a winter lockdown?

    The idea of getting out early to exercise during the winter while it’s light outside might fill most of us with dread. But the benefits of exercise, even during the colder months and especially during the lockdown, have been widely attested to.

    Physical benefits of exercise include:

    • Physical resilience: Our body fights viruses in our immune system which includes organs like the skin, as well as white blood cells, the lymphatic system, the spleen, the thymus and bone marrow. All of these are strengthened with exercise and the associated benefits of increased oxygen in the lungs.
    • Better blood circulation: Exercise pumps blood (including those handy white blood cells) around the body to where it’s needed for repair.
    • Stronger bones and joints: While we’re sitting down working from home everyday, our bones and joints are suffering. Exercise helps keep them in tip-top condition.
    • Stress reducing: Exercise helps to regulate the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in our bodies.
    • Weight management: Exercise burns calories, which helps many of us stay at a healthy weight, which in turn keeps our lungs and hearts healthy.
    • Improved quality of sleep: If you find yourself waking up early in the morning or struggling to get to sleep at night, then exercise could be the answer. In turn, sleep helps our cells repair themselves, along with helping the immune system and our general health.

    Mental health benefits of exercise include: 

    • Reducing stress: Many people say that exercise is one of the main ways they reduce stress so with more of us working from home than ever before, we’ll need to keep stress levels low.
    • Creating resilience: Due to the physical challenges of exercise, it helps us create positive coping strategies and helps to develop mental resilience.
    • Releases endorphins: The famous ‘feel-good’ hormones make us feel fantastic, a key feature in improving our mental health through lockdown.
    • Less mental fatigue: By changing up our daily routine with exercise, we can avoid the mental fatigue that comes with doing the same thing, in the same place, every day.
    • Improves our sleep quality: Better sleep has been proven to help those struggling with their mental health during difficult times due to the physical benefits it creates.

    So while you might need to stock up on some warm running leggings for the weeks ahead, it’s been proven time and time again that the benefits of exercise both for our minds and bodies will see us through challenging times.

    Sam Gregory, co-owner and head trainer at F45 Stratford, says setting a personal target is one of the best ways to stay on track with fitness over the lockdown. “As you will be more motivated to succeed and achieve your goals, even if it is just to beat your personal best on a 5k run, your focus will be strong.

    “One way to stay motivated when exercising in the winter is to make sure you are doing something you enjoy as you are far more likely to stick at it! There are so many great workouts you can do, that there is no need to force yourself to do a workout you hate.”

    “For many people, the thought of having to get out of a warm bed and head out into the cold to workout can be overwhelmingly difficult, but people seem to forget how great you feel afterwards and will really help to get rid of those winter blues.”

    But for those who don’t fancy the frosty morning runs, Sam says that home workouts are the answer. “You can easily workout in your own home, using just body weight.” He tells GoodtoKnow, “For instance, you could try the F45 Challenge App, which offer nutrition advice, and with a full membership you can also have access to newly released on demand workouts every single day, which vary between a range of F45 favourite workouts.”

    Check out these other places to find exercise classes online…

    Where to find online exercise classes during lockdown

    YouTube, the official websites of gyms and independent personal trainers on Instagram are some of the best platforms to follow for online exercise classes during lockdown.

    If you normally go to a gym, then it’s worth checking out whether they’ll be taking their classes online. Over the last lockdown, many fitness studios and gyms took their regular exercise classes virtually and adapted them so people could still participate in their homes.

    While on YouTube, yoga instructor Adriene racked up over 8 million followers by posting easy-to-follow and accessible yoga tutorials on her channel. Suitable for everyone from beginners right up to experienced yoga practitioners, Adriene’s yoga sequences and poses are all online.

    For children there’s also the Cosmic Kids Yoga App which is great for getting them moving as well as practicing mindfulness.

    During the first lockdown, personal trainer and fitness guru Joe Wicks became our daily essential for exercise. Dubbed the ‘nation’s P.E teacher’, his Joe Wicks workout videos got people up and moving in their living rooms. Now, Joe has announced that he will be taking up the gauntlet once again to help families keep active during the lockdown.

    View this post on Instagram

    Guess who’s back with “Wake Up With Joe” 😀 I promised if we went back into a lockdown I would be here to help you get through it and I’m now committing to filming and sharing 3 new workouts a week until lockdown is over how ever long that takes 🙌🏽🥵 They will go live Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6am on my YouTube channel starting on Mon 9th. This will not be LIVE workouts but pre-recorded short 15-minute energy and mood boosting workouts to help you stay fit and find some positivity, energy and help with your mental health. You can then choose to do the workouts at a time which suits you. I need this just as much as you. Our mental health is suffering but we can get through this lockdown together and come out stronger both physically and mentally 🙌🏽 Will you join in with the workouts this month? Please tag your friends below 😀 #WakeUpWithJoe

    A post shared by Joe Wicks (@thebodycoach) on

    Writing on his Instagram page, the Body Coach wrote, ‘I promised if we went back into a lockdown I would be here to help you get through it and I’m now committing to filming and sharing 3 new workouts a week until lockdown is over how ever long that takes 🙌🏽  They will go live Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6am on my YouTube channel starting on Mon 9th. This will not be LIVE workouts but pre-recorded short 15-minute energy and mood boosting workouts to help you stay fit and find some positivity, energy and help with your mental health. You can then choose to do the workouts at a time which suits you.

    ‘I need this just as much as you. Our mental health is suffering but we can get through this lockdown together and come out stronger both physically and mentally.’