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exercise in London
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All the new rules on exercising and moving around in London


You may have found yourself asking some seriously weird questions in the mirror lately. Like, ‘What constitutes daily exercise?’ and, ‘Can I pack a picnic without getting some serious side eye?' So here’s the latest info on what you can and can’t leave the house for in London (and in England) right now, according to the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC). 

Daily exercise

Yes, you can go out once a day for physical activity and fresh air. But beyond that, the information across all your WhatsApp groups probably varies quite widely. So here’s what you can officially do, or what is ‘likely to be reasonable’ (the official and seriously woolly term used to define all the dos and don’ts in the NPCC’s document):

1. Walking, jogging, cycling and even practising outdoor (and socially distanced) yoga are all fine. As is gardening, even if it’s tending to an allotment, rather than a plot in your back yard. 

2. Stopping to rest or to have lunch on a longer walk is now also allowed, which might be news to many. 

3. Getting in a car to head for a nice spot of nature for your walk is also possible. 

4. The whole ‘once daily’ thing? Not necessarily a thing! The guidelines here from the NPCC seem to put the onus on you to interpret: ‘The only relevant consideration is whether repeated exercise on the same day can be considered a “reasonable excuse” for leaving home.’ 

When considering all of the above, it’s important to note that the document also states that the stopping and resting shouldn’t outweigh the exercise (get up, lazy bones!) – so you probably shouldn’t be going out with the sole purpose of having a picnic, for example. And the same applies for driving – you shouldn’t be taking a long journey in the car for the sake of a very short walk or brief exercise.  

Shopping for necessities 

You’re probably in a nice little routine with your shopping by now – whether that’s a weekly solo dash round the supermarket, a coveted online delivery slot or a regular grocery order to your door. It’s important to note that all supermarkets have their own guidelines in place for best in-store practice, but the NPCC says the following: ‘In general terms, a person has a reasonable excuse to visit the shops which remain open to customers under the regulations.’ 

Necessities include luxury items and alcohol, don’t worry. And popping out to pick up takeaway food is also A-OK. You’re also allowed to collect surplus food from friends. 

When it comes to DIY, you should only be heading out to buy equipment if it’s for home repairs. Now is not the time to be getting all prepared for serious home renovation, my friend.

Getting to work 

Key workers, essential workers and those who cannot work from home are allowed freedom of movement to get to their jobs and to then get home. That includes people delivering goods to the vulnerable. What’s definitely not allowed is taking your laptop to the local park for a day on the job. 

Other new reasons to leave the home you might not know about 

If you’ve had an argument with those you’re meant to be safe at home with, you’re allowed to move to a friend’s home for a ‘cooling-off’ period. With incidences of domestic violence on the rise right now, this is one move we can fully get behind. 

People can also move households, so long as it’s a genuine move – not for a couple of days for a change of scene, for example. You also shouldn't be meeting a friend at their house or meeting in public to socialise, even if you think it’s at a safe distance. However, the needs of the vulnerable are being taken into account. The NPCC states: ‘Social visits are not generally a good reason to leave home. However, there may be exceptional circumstances for a person to visit another (eg, a hospital authorising a particular person to visit).’

Good news! You can also take an animal for any urgent veterinary treatment. After all, the health of your cohabiters is paramount, right now. 

So there you have it – some slightly clearer guidelines on your movements around London. Just remember, though, that if in doubt you should stay at home and save lives

Here are some top exercises you don’t have to leave the house for.

Check out if one of these scenic London walks is near you for your daily exercise. 

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