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Why I chose to go outside

Mark has been shielding since March. Here he shares what it was like going outside after a long time at home.

Mark on his first walk outside in 3 months

When the government announced people shielding in England could go outside for exercise once a day, I was delighted. I have severe asthma, bronchiectasis and diabetes so I have been shielding since March. The only times I left my house in 11 weeks were when I was rushed to hospital after having an asthma attack and for subsequent hospital appointments. 

Like a lot of people, I’ve found shielding quite tough, especially as I was furloughed from my job a few weeks into lockdown. There’s only so much Netflix you can watch!

I’m fortunate I live in a quiet area, so the decision to go for a walk was easier for me. I think I would be quite reluctant if I lived in a busy area. 

First walk in 3 months

The first time I went out of the house, I didn’t know which way to go. I’d spent a long time packing my bag with all my medicines, inhalers, hand sanitiser, a face covering and sunglasses, but I hadn’t actually thought about where I was going to walk to!

I decided to turn left out of the street where I live on because I couldn’t see anyone ahead. If I saw someone coming in my direction, I thought: will I be able to cross the road? Or maybe I could duck into someone’s driveway?

But each time I’ve been walking, I’ve felt more relaxed. I’ve found people have been considerate and are in general keeping the 2-metre distance. Most people even say hello, which makes a change from normal!

I tend to walk in the morning when there’s fewer people around and I like going to the park because it’s quite open. Although, I haven’t sat down on a bench yet – I’m a bit paranoid about that.

I’ve found leaving the house therapeutic

The week before the restrictions for people shielding were eased, I’d been feeling a bit down. Just being able to go for a walk outside has been therapeutic. I feel my mental as well as my physical health has benefited. 

What’s more, I’ve come to really appreciate the area that I live in. Having been stuck at home for a long time, the world seems a more beautiful place than I remember it. I’d actually never been to the park where I walk before, and I’ve found it to be picturesque and peaceful. 

Going outside is a personal decision

I’m feeling more comfortable during my walks but I am still quite wary when I go out. I understand why other people who are shielding might not want to go outside. It’s a personal decision and while this works for me, it might not suit other people.

Mark, Aaron, Ginny and Abigail share their thoughts on shielding and the easing of the government guidance

Got a question about shielding? Or what to do if you live with a lung condition? Check out our coronavirus hub for the latest updates and guidance.

Take a look at the coronavirus hub


I have been living with IPF for two years, and so I received the Government Shielding letter for which I was grateful for the consideration shown by the NHS et al. I have gone on walks every day since lockdown as I live on a quiet lane and go out at about 7.30 pm. In view of the poor prognosis of IPF together with the progression of the disorder in my case, I have no intention of making my life more difficult than it needs to be for perhaps a small return.
Hi Mark I too have bronchiectasis and have been isolating since middle of March. Like you I started going out last week, just for dog walks with my son and family, who I live with. I too have been furloughed from my part time job and am worried that if I don't go back soon they will let me go. As this is my only form of income this is a massive worry. Good luck Mark and keep well.
I can totally relate to everything Mark described... Including the mistrust of park benches. I understand why people have chosen not to go out - Mark is absolutely right, it must depend so much on your personal circumstances and. Thank you Mark for making me feel normal!
Had I not gone out I would not be here. For me to retain my physical and mental health it was necessary and I do not regret it. I ensured I did not risk anyone elses health. Had I not gone out I would be a burden on the NHS.

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11 June 2020