New research shows 6 feet apart isn’t enough in exercising situations, especially in FL

Reporter: Veronica Marshall
Published: Updated:
Cropped Photo: Army Medicine / Wikipedia / CC BY 2.0 / MGN

One relief from coronavirus stress is staying active, but new research says if you’re heading outside for release, six feet of social distancing isn’t enough, especially here in Florida.

“I really enjoy running. My dad actually got me into it,” said JeAnne Hertle, Vice President of the Fort Myers Track Club.

She says the stress of social isolation caused by the coronavirus means her runs are more important than ever.

“The biggest benefit I get is stress relief,” she said.

Doctor Alise Bartley, the director of FGCU’s Community Counseling Center, says we can all benefit from spending time outside.

“We can get out and move around, and we know it helps us feel better,” she said.

But new research says we have to take extra precautions when running, biking or even walking outside. Why? What we’re breathing out when working out can spread out.

“When you go out for your run, you’re also exhaling a bit more intensive than now, sitting down. These droplets are very light, very small. When you exhale them, they immediately come to a standstill which is fine, unless somebody comes very close behind you and walks through this cloud of droplets,” Dr. Bert Blocken, professor at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.

Blocken says in Florida, we have even more to worry about. “High humidity can be positive and negative. It can be positive because the droplets will evaporate less fast, which means they are heavier and will fall towards the ground faster.”

To avoid coming into contact with another person’s droplets outside, Blocken recommends staying 15 feet away from them while walking, 33 feet away while jogging or cycling slowly and 65 feet away when you’re moving quickly.

“Enjoy your community, just keep your distance,” Hertle said.

Another suggestion to stay safe: if you’re out running and you encounter another person, don’t run behind them. Instead, run parallel to them or in a staggered formation. 

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