Socially distanced exercise

3rd February 2021

As we remain in the midst of various COVID-19 restrictions, a daily jog or stroll through the British countryside has become a lifeline for many. It is distinguished as a chance to engage with nature or focus on personal fitness during a strange and frightening period of adjustment.

Throughout the pandemic, Tunbridge Wells Commons has remained open, offering spacious land bursting with flora and fauna. We understand that the great outdoors is an integral outlet for the population’s physical and mental wellbeing, we are therefore ensuring that our space is accessible to everyone.

Mental & physical health

The ongoing crisis only underscores the psychological and physical benefits of nature. The concept of biophilia, popularised by E.O. Wilson, professor emeritus of biology at Harvard University, states humans have an inherent love of and desire to be near and in nature. As we move into an ever-more virtual world, feeling trapped in our living quarters – we are beginning to recognise the benefits of the outside world that we previously took for granted.

The current international health crisis has forced many to prioritise the enhancement of their physical wellbeing. Vitamin D, which is important for your bones, blood cells and immune system, can be synthesised through exposure to the sun. Daylight also seems to energise T cells in your immune system which help to fight infection. Plants that you encounter when strolling through a green space also emit substances into the air (including organic compounds called phytoncides) that seem to boost immune function.

Just as exercise is good for anxiety – nature, can make you feel less angry and stressed. Sunlight helps keep your serotonin levels up, therefore helping raise your energy and keep your mood calm, positive, and focused. As little as 5 minutes of activity in an outdoor green space can help improve your self-esteem. Studies also show that spending time amongst nature can boost your creative problem-solving abilities – partly because the outside world engages your attention in a quieter way that lets your attention refocus. This is perfect for those of us struggling with distractions when working from home! 

How safe is it outside?

Coronavirus can spread via contact with an infected surface, such as a door handle; and by breathing in viral particles from an infected person. Particles can be transmitted in two forms: aerosols (small particles that stay suspended in the air); and droplets (larger particles which fall to the ground). These are released by an infected person through coughing, sneezing, talking or singing – which then get into the mouth, nose or eyes of people who are nearby. Short-range airborne (or aerosol) transmission may also be possible, particularly in poorly ventilated, crowded indoor places.

Ventilation is likely important when it comes to preventing the spread of infection. Therefore outside, suspended, viral particles will get quickly diluted by fresh air and droplets will fall to the ground rapidly where they can no longer be breathed in. You’re also far less likely to touch an infected surface than you are indoors.

Stay alert

Although the risk of transmission of coronavirus is lower outside than indoors, it is not zero, therefore it is still very important that the appropriate precautions are taken, including keeping at least two metres away from other pedestrians, wearing a fabric mask near others, frequently washing hands and self-checking for any COVID-19 symptoms before going out. With 256 acres, Tunbridge Wells Commons’ offers an abundance of space, and various paths to explore – some less popular than others, ideal for your socially distanced walks!

Currently, you can only leave your home to exercise – not for the purpose of recreation, therefore picnics, sunbathing or any other leisurely activities are not permitted. You are required to respect the space of others, therefore if there are people ahead and you cannot pass without breaking the two metre social distancing rule, then please stop and move aside.

Our benches are available for the public to use when taking breaks from walking – however it is important to remember that they are not sanitised, so please cleanse your hands before and after touching each surface. You should also only ever share a bench with other members of your household.

Tunbridge Wells Commons

Alongside being essential in replenishing our psychological health after prolonged hours of indoor confinement – strolling through our picturesque commons is one of the safest activities you can engage in outside of your household. When embarking on your daily exercise session, why not pay us a visit?

Tommy Marques