Updated 2 June

Keeping active during the Coronavirus outbreak

Latest position

The government has confirmed changes to what’s allowed in relation to sport and physical activity as part of the next phase of its response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

People can now go outside more than once a day for exercise, alone, with members of their household, or with up to, but no more than 5 people from outside of their household as long as they are following social distancing guidelines. Gatherings of more than 6 people are not permitted (unless an exemption applies, for example, you are from one household or if it’s essential for work purposes).

From 13 May, outdoor sports courts and other outdoor sporting activities have been permitted to reopen if those responsible for them are ready to do so and they can do so safely, following COVID-19 Secure guidelines. Indoor facilities such as clubhouses should be kept closed, apart from toilets and throughways. Clubhouse bars and restaurants can also offer take-away services (see below for more detail).

Outdoor gyms, playgrounds and outdoor and indoor swimming pools will remain closed to the public.

Further government advice on the phased return of outdoor sport and recreation in England can be found here on their website.


On 16 March, the Prime Minister directed the public to remain at home for 7 days if symptoms of persistent cough or fever develop.  If a member of the household is unwell then this advice is extended to 14 days, starting from the first day of illness.  This extended period of isolation allows time for the first symptomatic member of the household and anyone subsequently infected to develop symptoms and recover.

It is now strongly advised that extremely vulnerable people should stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks, a practice called ‘shielding’. Extremely vulnerable groups include people with breathing disorders like severe asthma, severe COPD or cystic fibrosis, people taking immunosuppressive therapies, people with specific cancers and several other conditions the full list can be found here.

For others, social distancing is advised.   Those people who are 70 or older are strongly advised to work from home, use less public transport, avoid having friends or family visit their home and avoid social contact within the community. 

The majority of people will be in good health for most of their time practising social distancing. However, individuals may find the boredom and disconnection from their community, friends and family psychologically challenging.

During this difficult time, it is important to find ways to stay mentally and physically healthy.

Exercise is an important way to improve mental wellbeing and is recognised to be helpful for managing depression in older adults as well as improving sleep, feelings of fatigue and quality of life.  Improvements in our cardiorespiratory health can also occur within a few weeks of commencing regular moderate-intensity exercise and regular physical activity reduces the risks and complications of many diseases, which may complicate Covid-19 infection

It is important to note that strenuous exercise is not advisable for those with symptoms of infection, particularly with a fever.

However, for those who are free from symptoms, there are clear benefits to starting or continuing to exercise whilst in isolation.

Exercise whilst in isolation can be performed in several ways and should include a combination of resistance exercise to strengthen muscles, and aerobic exercise.

Importantly, time sitting for long periods should be minimised. Remember, some activity is good, but more is better.

In Suffolk, we are fortunate to be surrounded by an abundance of green spaces, which can be enjoyed without risking extended contact with others. 

However, always follow Government advice which can be found on their website

Dr Craig Sheridan
GP & Specialty Registrar in Sports and Exercise Medicine

MBChB BSc (Hons) MRCGP (2013) MSc dip SEM (Distinction) MFSEM (UK)
Public Health Suffolk

Dr Craig Sheridan, Public Health Suffolk