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Asia: Cycling/Running Outdoors During the Pandemic

This is a rapidly developing article and restrictions may change any moment depending on releases from various countries. We will update this story when new information is available.

As the coronavirus pandemic continue to create uncertainty, and most countries in Asia still in lockdown or in some form of it (curfews)–you might be wondering if you could ride or run outdoors. The answer is not an easy yes or no, and it will depend on where you live.

Living on this lockdown phase means its been more tempting to go outdoors for exercise. There are drastically lesser vehicles on the road, and studies have showed that air quality has also improved.

World Health Organization (WHO) on their latest advisory on people movement has recommended biking and walking for essential journeys.

Whenever feasible, consider riding bicycles or walking. This provides physical distancing helping you to meet the minimum requirement for daily physical activity, which maybe more difficult due to increased teleworking, and limited access to sport and other recreational activities.

Assuming there are no government restrictions on where you live, is it even safe to ride or run outside?

The answer is YES. But only as long you do it SOLO.

It means no group rides. No group runs. We have seen many articles where you meet up with other cyclists and form a group ride, and you know, physical distancing will be difficult, even with a small group. Droplets will fly and there’s a good chance a rider out back might catch something.

Important to note that always best to plan your ride or run where and when you could avoid crowded areas. The benefits of cycling and running are already well-known fact, and public health authorities has consistently recommended 30-60 minutes of moderate activity. The benefits takes on a more significant level during this pandemic: it alleviates stress and keeps the immune system healthy.

So where can I Ride or Run outdoors?

It depends on what country you are living.

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Singapore

In Singapore, the recent advisory from Sport Singapore (government body) allows for outdoor cycling and running. See the advisory below:

Vietnam

One of the rare bright spot in the pandemic was Vietnam’s successful response and containment, and as of this posting, has not registered a death due to the covid-19 virus. Vietnam has started to ease their social distancing measures, particularly in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Riding and running outdoors is allowed, but you must wear a mask while doing your activity. Not wearing a mask when going out will continue to penalized with fines.

Philippines

The whole archipelago of Luzon in Philippines has been in lockdown since March 15 and most highly-populated provinces (including the whole Metro Manila) will still be in community quarantine until May 15. Recreational cycling and running outdoors is considered non-essential, so it is not allowed.

A group of riders posted their ride in social media and where tracked down by local government authorities. Their bikes were confiscated and were made to do community work.

Malaysia

Malaysia has extended its stay-at-home measures until May 12, and information from sources reveal that recreational running and biking outdoors is strictly not permitted and violating the measure may mean fines and even prosecution.

Indonesia

In Indonesia, it is not clear on their Social Distancing Measures whether outdoor exercise is allowed or not. The said measure has been extended until May 22.

No Lockdowns

Countries like Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea have relatively contained the coronavirus and currently have no strict lockdown measures—outdoor riding/running is definitely allowed. These countries has experienced pandemic before-SARS, so citizens are relatively pro-active in protecting themselves. If you go out better to go with a mask.

Final Word

This segment assumes there are no local restrictions on you riding and running outdoors. We do not want you breaking any laws or ordinances to satisfy your ride fix.

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We also believe that prevention is always the better alternative. So if you have a turbo trainer or a treadmill, this is the best time to maximize its use.

If you have no access to indoor equipment or simply, you need to de-stress outside, yeah go for that outdoor exercise.

If you do so, go solo. Advise your spouse of your route and avoid busy roads and congested areas. Always stick to the rules, better to stay local and forget about those long distance rides. Pro Athlete Joe Skipper was castigated online when he did a 201km ride in England despite not breaking any rules–UK Government guidelines does include exercise as an essential activity, although it also states that you minimize time spent outside your home.

In the Philippines where public and mass transport are suspended, various groups lend bikes to essential health workers so they can ride to work. Persons permitted to go outside sometimes use their bikes to go for their grocery supply run.

It depends on the culture too. Outside of Italy, France and Spain-where they experienced serious outbreaks-some European countries do encourage cycling-as a form of exercise or means to transport. The new normal might encourage biking as a safer alternative to public transport where people are confined in cramped space.

Final word is simple enough. If there are local restrictions disallowing you to exercise outside, go indoors. Even if you do not have a trainer or a treadmill, vast workout routines sit on youtube for you to get your exercise fix.

If your government finds outdoor exercise as an essential activity, go for that ride or run. There is no better time to get out and enjoy the quiet, traffic free roads. Just practice common sense and manage the risks–in other words do not overdo it.

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