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02nd Mar 2021

Joggers should wear face masks when running in crowded areas, scientists say

Depending on how heavily someone is breathing, "puffing and panting" while jogging in the park could "pose a danger" to others

Reuben Pinder

If the park is crowded, wear a mask

Many of us have taken up jogging over the past year. With restrictions placed on team sport, gyms shut, and a general serotonin deficiency hitting all of us in some way or another, running in parks is one of the few activities that can give us those juicy endorphins we crave.

But few of us will have realised the risks involved in running through busy parks. Outdoor spaces are largely safer than indoor spaces when it comes to Covid-19 transmission, but “puffing and panting” can pose a danger to others, scientists have said.

“There is no doubt the virus is in the air, there is no doubt that you can catch it if you inhale, and that someone else has exhaled,” Trish Greenhalgh, professor in primary care health sciences at the University of Oxford, told Good Morning Britain.

“The exercising jogger – the puffing and panting jogger – you can feel their breath come and you can sometimes actually feel yourself inhale it, so there’s no doubt that there is a danger there.

“I do agree that wet, soggy masks are not a good idea,” she added. “But for goodness’ sake, I’ve been for a run this morning. Not only did I put my t-shirt in the wash but I put my mask in the wash as well.

“Forty per cent of Covid cases happen by catching it from people who have no symptoms. So you’re jogging along, you think you’re fine, and then the next day you develop symptoms of Covid, but you’ve actually breathed that Covid onto someone perhaps you know, an old lady walking a dog or something like that.”

Devi Sridhar, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh told GMB people should wear masks in busy areas when outdoors but should feel free to take them off when not surrounded by other people. Basically, use your common sense.

“It really depends how close they are to you and how heavily they’re breathing,” she said.

“This can spread through the air and so it is important that runners should think – I do think where am I running and I’m trying to be attentive to pedestrians because the sidewalks are there for pedestrians in busy areas and high streets.

“[When] you’re out in the park, take off your mask and run freely.

“I think we need some consideration for each other right now. We’re in a pandemic and just, you know, think how it feels for other people.

“So if you’re going to cycle in a busy area, wear a mask.”