Joggers should wear face masks when running outside - according to scientists

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 2:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 2:07 pm
Do you wear a face mask when out jogging? (Photo: Shutterstock)
Do you wear a face mask when out jogging? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Joggers should wear a face covering when running past others outside, scientists have said.

Experts have warned there can be a “danger” for pedestrians when a “puffing, panting” jogger passes by them, but stressed it is safe for people to “run freely” when in wide open spaces.

‘There is a danger’

The warning comes amid fears that pedestrians could inhale the air from passing joggers, putting them at possible risk of catching Covid-19

Trish Greenhalgh, professor in primary care health sciences at the University of Oxford, told Good Morning Britain: “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.

“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.

“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.”

Protection in busy areas

Health experts have advised that people should wear masks in busy areas, but when they are not surrounded by people it is safe to remove it and “run freely”.

Devi Sridhar, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said the level of risk is dependent on how close a jogger is to passing pedestrians, and how heavily they are breathing.

She said: “It really depends how close they are to you and how heavily they are breathing.

“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.”

However, former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson criticised the suggestion for runners to wear masks, instead suggesting that observing social distancing is the strictest rule that should be observed.

He said: “For millions of people in the country, through lockdown three through winter, the only thing they have had is running.

“I don’t think I could do a run with a mask on - it’s hard enough for me to run without a mask.

“The strict rule that should be enforced is social distancing - if you’re a runner you should know obviously you’re breathing more deeply and you should try not to run into people or run near them.”