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Is jogging too risky as we strive to keep our distance?


In the new world order of physical distancing, self-isolation and a creeping paranoia about other people’s germs, should you still puff and pant while out running, passing others who may have the coronavirus?

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University of Queensland infectious disease expert Charles Gilks said it was technically possible to catch COVID-19 from a passing jogger, but that would be extremely unlucky.

“I can’t say there are no risks, but I think they’re very, very, very small,” Professor Gilks said.

He said while joggers coughing and sneezing could pass on an infection, keeping a good distance away helped ensure that did not happen.

Mater Hospital’s infectious diseases director, Associate Professor Paul Griffin, said it would be possible to inhale virus particles from someone passing by.

“But hopefully not enough to get infected,” Cullen said.

“With the droplet spread, we know that you need a fairly significant interaction to be susceptible to getting this and the public health definition is 15 minutes of face-to-face or two hours in the same room.

“Clearly, if you walk past someone it’s a lot less than that.”

The ABC’s medical expert Norman Swan urged a cautious approach to exercising in public.

“I think you have to assume that as you are breathing up and breathing fast, if you’ve got [coronavirus] you’re more likely to be aerosolising it.”

That is, spraying out infected particles.

“With that bigger tidal volume, that bigger breathing … if they had COVID-19, if they had the SARS COVID-2 virus then they could actually be spraying it out a bit more than normal.”

What to do when jogging?

Become a distance runner. In other words, always keep your distance.

Run alone or in pairs a sufficient distance apart.

This is the consistent advice from all professionals who spoke to ABC News.

Swan said he always avoided other joggers.

“When I’m out running, I steer clear of other people and I certainly steer clear of runners coming towards me,” he said.

What about surfing?

Cullen said he thought the surf might be a safe place because COVID-19 was unlikely to survive long in salty water.

“Obviously the dilutionary effect of seawater, you know, it’s not going to be an effective way of getting it, if you’re out in the sea,” he said.

“It probably doesn’t like that environment very much.”

Gilks said sitting at home and not exercising was a greater concern.

“One of the problems that I see is with having to stay indoors, working from home encourages sedentary behaviour,” he said.

“It’s very important for your physical health and your wellbeing to keep your weight under control and to try and retain fitness.”

Yesterday Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said Queenslanders could go to the beach to exercise or swim, but “don’t sunbake or congregate”.

‘Keep active’

Fitness Australia CEO Barrie Elvish said they were pushing for gyms to be allowed to stay open as an essential service.

But he said limiting gatherings to two people made it impossible.

He urged people to keep exercising.

“Keeping active and practicing a regular exercise routine is a great way for people across the country to keep their physical and mental health in good shape, especially as isolation starts to take a toll,” he said.

Cullen urged caution in picking what time to go out and about.

“What we don’t want is people go out exercising and in congregate in a big group and spend time chatting or get a coffee or whatever together which is which is a risk.”

– ABC / George Roberts

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