Level four lockdown regulations stipulated that people could exercise between the hours of 6am and 9am, within a 5km radius of their home. We asked our participants if they had been among those making use of the allocated time to exercise outdoors. We wanted to know it they used the exercise time, their experienced of it and whether it has had an impact in the way people engage in their communities. Here is what they had to say:
We are exercising – and it is great
A significant number of our diarists have been using the allocated exercise time and have found that it has had a positive impact in their lives. Indeed, several diarists noted that this was the first time they had started doing physical activity.
‘It very amazing. I use to just sit at home and just at first it was hard but [now] am enjoying it and we doing at children’s park and I have noticed many old people are also joining this exercise. And my body and mind is very free [now].’ Patsie, Khayelitsha
‘Some of the people took this opportunity to make use of the time by jogging to make their bodies healthy’. Gift, Imizamo Yethu
While Nolusapho from Khayelitsha does not make use of the hours allocated for outdoor exercise herself, preferring to workout indoors, she writes that ‘people are becoming more fit’ in her community.
‘Yes we have been out nearly every morning – usually husband and I run and then we collect kids and dogs for a walk. It has been so lovely seeing people. Nearly everyone is happy and smiling – been greeted by everyone as we pass. Our 6 year old has her morning greeting which brings a smile to passer bys. We love our morning walks and runs’. Melody, Newlands
‘Not me but my 2 children, and I can see when coming from doing exercise, they have a fresh mind, meet new friends and they bring home their new ideas on life, I wish I could join them’. Nozuko, Siyahlala, Philippi
Kungo from Shukushukuma says that he doesn’t exercise but his friends and members of his community do. He says that the new regulation had a ‘positive impact because most people have joined them’.
We exercise – but it doesn’t feel safe
Many of our diarists are concerned by the numbers of people exercising and the lack of social distancing the regulation has created. Thomas from the CBD walks his dog twice a week during the allocated hours but says he ‘dislike[s] walking in those hours […] as the streets are busy‘. He further states his concerns of ‘catching the virus from people who don’t wear masks and run‘. Many of our diarists have noted the same sort of concerns expressed by Thomas.
‘Yes I was using it all the time, but to tell you the truth I think it was too early for the government to let people exercise because in my community almost everyone that is not back at work is jogging and you seeing people for the first time who have never ran at all, but are now running. As a result, you wouldn’t even know who has the virus or not because in your head you just going out for a jog and its really crazy of how many people are actually exercising now then before the was a virus. My opinion is that, people are using this time to get out rather then exercise and I’ve seen this with my eyes when I go out for a morning run, you see lots of groups together taking a stroll and taking selfies.’ Lwando, Imizamo Yethu
‘Yes I tried to use that 6am till 9am exercise it’s been horrible what I saw it looked like people were protesting. Hundreds of people in 1 space. […] It was so scary to see people the way they were training there was no distance they break all the rules they were hugging at each other and gents were handshaking each other. So I have decided not to train since I experienced that horror.’ Andile, Khayelitsha
Nonceba also from Khayelitsha, writes that she is concerned about the spread of the virus by those who exercise in large groups. She writes, ‘No social distance and no masks at all. So, the spread of the virus sine chance kakhulu (virus has a great chance of spreading)’. Sim agrees that ‘in my area it’s actually worrying because people are doing it in bulk numbers. Little regard is paid to social distance’. Scott from Salt River who has not been making use of the exercise period says that ‘there are so many people so it between those designated hours‘. ‘Exercise is extremely important‘, he writes ‘but so many people exercising at the same time is a risk‘.
‘…they go out in large numbers for a jog…I can now see that they are putting their lives and others at risk by doing that. Remember when they are out exercising in a group they don’t wear masks. I think they need to be stopped because what they are doing is totally wrong.’ Nomaxabiso, Khayelitsha
“Most people are not even using the allocated time to exercise as most don’t take it seriously. Life is continuing as normal under the new circumstances. […]People don’t like to exercise alone they normally do it groups. With their friends or gym partners. This will violate the rules of social distancing as people will run in groups and be close to another.’ Khaya, Khayelitsha
To keep safe, ‘I exercise indoors instead’
For those who feel it is unsafe to exercise during the 6am-9am window, they have found other ways to keep fit.
‘Yes I have but I’ve been doing at home, many people are doing outdoor exercise which makes it unsafe’. Thando, Khayelitsha
‘I personally have not used time allocated to jog or exercise. I exercise indoors instead of going outside but a couple of people I know are using the times and even jog in evenings… but my problem is no social distancing is observed and mask. The past 2 days police have been dispersing crowds.’ Bonga, Khayelitsha
Lilly, from Woodstock, does not make use of the hours allocated for outdoor exercise, but prefers walking to access essential services to keep fit. She notes how she does not have to wake up early to do so:
‘For myself, I prefer walking so for any reason I need to be in the CBD, I just walk and it is a 30 minute duration to get there. Or, going to the shops – it’s a twenty minute walk to get there and back. For this I don’t need to get up to early so my exercise is at any time during the day.’ Lilly, Woodstock
Like Lilly, Anonymous from Hangberg also uses her walks to keep fit but says that ‘it‘s been scary to walk pass people or even bumped into them u know’.
‘I have been exercising at home, doing a few stretches and muscle relieve for my bone strength too.’ – Nicole, Lavender Hill
‘No, I’m not using that time for going out. I’m in deep sleep at that time. People where I live do not exercise in the morning. They gym afternoon’. Papame, Khayelitsha
Exercise time is not used
For several of our diarists the restricted time period for exercise posed problems and they were not engaging in outdoor exercise in the morning. The stipulated hours were incompatible with their schedules. Sam, from Khayelitsha, who is a volunteer for his local CAN group, says that he can’t exercise because he spends most of his time ‘going to different areas, trying to help’. Sim, from Delft, also noted that ‘Unfortunately for me those times I’m at work’.
Is the exercise period (condensed into a few hours) forcing people to break social distancing norms?
Will the new fitness regimes that some people have adopted in lockdown lead to long-lasting change?