I am more of an indoor person, but during the pandemic, the thought of outdoor exercises hit my mind. One thing that is clear on my mind is that wearing a mask and social distancing are two of the most important things to avoid COVID infection. But then another question pops into my mind. Is the general six feet social distancing rule enough for bikers, runners, or walkers to help them stay safe?

Research shows that the virus can travel up to six feet away when an infected person coughs or sneezes. That is where the six feet social distancing rule comes from. But what about when you are outside running? Is the six feet enough space to stay clear of the virus from the runners, bikers, and walkers?

More Distance Is Safer

A group of Dutch researchers are looking into that. Using simulations, they evaluated the trail of saliva left behind by runners, bikers, and walkers. For example, when an infected runner sneezes, coughs or breathes, the particles are left behind.

According to the researchers, the level of risk depends on where you are in relation to the other runner. When you are directly behind them, the risk is the greatest and less if you run side by side or in a diagonal setting.

According to the Dutch researchers, the bottom line is that 6 feet aren’t enough when working out outdoors. You could walk, run or bike through someone’s stream of the virus before it even gets to the ground.

From their estimates, they recommend keeping a distance of at least 12 to 15 feet away. For slow biking and running, stay at least 30 feet from the guy in front of you and for hard biking, maintain a 6o feet distance. All this makes sense, and the researchers make a case that the more distance you keep, the better. While we can’t say for sure this is the case based on their findings, the best thing you can do to stay safe and protect others is maintaining as much distance when working out it doesn’t hurt anyway.

When you go out for a jog, bike, or walk, maintain as much distance as possible. If you seem likely to pass the runner ahead of you, take caution and cross the street if possible or slow down if you can’t cross. The extra effort helps you protect yourself and others, ensuring you don’t walk into a slipstream of possibly infected saliva from the other runner.