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Councillor Binda Rai, running in Elthorne Park - get moving, keep active

Taking positive steps to being active

Although social distancing is a critical part of life now, and some sports are off-limits for the time being, there are still plenty of ways to get exercise and keep active. And these can become part of your everyday routine.

Keeping active reduces your risk of suffering many of the more serious health conditions; and it can be incredibly beneficial for boosting your mental health and sense of wellbeing.

According to the NHS, adults should have 150 minutes of moderate activity
a week. And, the good news is that just walking briskly for 10 minutes, or cycling short distances, counts towards it. In fact, any activity that raises your heart-rate counts – including things like gardening.

Many people find that building activity into their daily routine is a
good way of getting enough exercise and remaining active.

Choosing to get somewhere – perhaps school or work – by walking or cycling instead of driving has the added benefit of cutting congestion on our roads and air pollution. And it can keep you outdoors and away from buses and trains, where social distancing is so much harder.


Lots of people have been going for walks during the lockdown – whether to the shop or just for leisure and some fresh air. There are so many beautiful parts of the borough to explore and guides are available to give you some ideas and routes for walking locally – visit www.ealing.gov.uk/walking for details.

And, as the borough returns in increasing numbers to work, school and shopping in towns, the council has been working to widen pavements to make it safer and easier to move around.

Tips and advice on making the school run on foot (or by bike or scooter) have also been provided.

Many people have also been enjoying running outdoors – some for the first time, trying programmes like ‘Couch to 5k’ from the NHS, or using the distance markers in our parks. The key thing, of course, is always to keep a safe gap from others.


Councillor Binda Rai is the council’s cabinet member for health and adult services. She said: “I’ve been trying to walk most of my shorter journeys, and I have also recently taken up running.

“We all know that exercise is good for your physical and mental health. But many of us will find a string of excuses to justify why we can’t do it: Too busy at work, too busy with the children, perhaps not enough spare time to fit it all in. And, trust me, I was no exception to this.

“So, why did I start to exercise? Well, sometimes you really can’t see the damage that you’re doing to your body – internally, that is. And I’ve had a few health issues to deal with and my daughter has insisted that exercise is key to me getting better. So, I’ve taken up walking and running and I’ve found it’s great for my mental and physical wellbeing and, no matter how short my walk or run may be, I still feel fantastic; I still feel a real sense of personal achievement by having done something that I never imagined I could do for myself. Why not try it?”


If you want to cycle to get around, visit Transport for London’s online route planner and click the cycling tab, which helps plot your route.

Alternatively, London Cycling Campaign’s online route planner will also show you the quickest and quietest route to get to your end destination.

The council offers ways to buy or hire bikes, and bike shops have also been allowed to stay open during lockdown (Sustrans has compiled a map showcasing bike shops that are currently open).

Try Before You Bike is a council scheme that allows you to purchase a bike by repaying in monthly instalments, with the bicycle delivered to your door.

Ealing has two dockless bike operators: Lime and Mobike. To find out more information visit the dockless bike hire pages on the council’s website.

If you have not cycled in a while or are not sue of what route to take, why not use the London Cycling Campaign’s route planner?

If you are looking for inspiration where to cycle to, or along, why not check out some of these routes?

  • Ealing benefits from segregated cycle routes; including the Ruislip Road East Quietway that provides a segregated path from Greenford Broadway to Ealing along the Ruislip Road East; and more recently Transport for London has completed works on the segregated A40 Cycleway that runs from Wood Lane to Kathleen Avenue – a great route for those who live in Acton to try out.
  • Ealing’s parks are open and provide a great chance for you and your household to take in the borough’s beautiful greenery (as long as you abide by the social distancing guidelines, which are being monitored by park rangers and ParkGuard officers).

London Cycling Campaign has published tips for new or returning cyclists who are looking to get on their bike. It is important that when out cycling you cycle safely and confidently by:

  1. Looking, signalling and manoeuvring
  2. Eye contact – look at pedestrians, drivers and other cyclists in the eye
  3. Keep away from the kerb – cycle at least 1m away from the kerb and parked cars
  4. Take the lane.

For more information on local cycling, visit www.ealing.gov.uk/cycling


It is still recommended that you stay at home as much as you can. And you may not want to exercise outside – or could be shielding or self-isolating. We ran an article earlier in lockdown listing some of the online exercise options you could try to stay active while staying at home.

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