Guidance on exercising for people with medical conditions and disabilities

Updated guidance in relation the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic published by Public Health England.

Updated guidance

Last updated: 1 May 2020 (reviewed daily)

In these unprecedented times in relation to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19), it is important that the guidance being published / advised by Public Health England is followed, to ensure that everyone is implementing the necessary measures to promote health and safety.

However, for some individuals who have learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, dementia and / or additional mental health needs; social isolation, a reduction in physical activity, unpredictability and changes in their routine, can all contribute to increased anxiety and undue stress.

See: Government guidance in relation to exercise, includes the following response within the frequently asked questions.

Can I exercise more than once a day if I need to due to a significant health condition?

‘Yes. You can leave your home for medical need. If you (or a person in your care), have a specific health condition that requires you to leave the home to maintain your health - including if that involves travel beyond your local area - then you can do so. This could, for example, include where individuals with learning disabilities or autism require specific exercise in an open space two or three times each day - ideally in line with a care plan agreed with a medical professional.’

This would also apply to those people experiencing dementia, additional mental health needs or other neurological conditions, where a pragmatic stance is needed to avoid an increase in anxiety and cause further stress.

Current care plans may not have been agreed by a medical professional. This is still okay. People are still able exercise and go outside in line with these guidelines and can use the following documents to support their need to be able to do so:

  • A letter confirming a relevant diagnosis
  • An individual’s Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, or Personal Independence Payment letter
  • A copy of an individual’s assessment or care and support plan from health or social care services

As indicated in the guidance, we advise that individuals remain as close to their homes as possible and utilise additional exercise on a needs-led basis to minimise risks and continue to follow all guidance relating to social distancing. This includes:

  • Staying 2 metres (6ft) away from other people (within the community setting) at all times
  • Washing their hands before they leave the property and upon return to the property (and wherever else necessary)
  • Not meeting others whilst out in the community

This may mean in some circumstances that individuals may require a higher level of supervision whilst outdoors, to ensure that the likelihood of risk and safety measures being implemented as appropriate.