While many European countries have announced quarantines, nationally or in specific regions, some have also banned or restricted all leisure cycling activities. This includes nations like France, Italy, and Spain, which account for some of the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases in Europe.
In France, the government has imposed a 2-kilometer restriction on how far citizens can be away from their home for exercise. “1km, 2km max… There is no question of getting away from your home.
The rule is containment for everyone. Remember, you should only go out for emergencies like shopping or for your health. A little jogging is possible for your wellbeing, but not a 10km!” the Ministry of Sport tweeted, as reported by Business Insider.
The Ministry also added that all exercises should be limited to just 30 minutes for adults. Following the government decree, the French Federation of Cycling notified all cyclists to stop their activities. It warned that since cycling does not fall under the conditions of the new rule, and performing the activity will be considered an offense.
In Italy, the government banned cycling from March 9. Only cycling for food and medical supplies is currently allowed in Italy. People who violate the rules can be made to pay a fine of up to €3,000.
Spain enacted a cycling ban on March 15. The ban was initially expected to remain in effect for 15 days. However, since the viral outbreak is still not under control, there is a good chance that the ban might be extended.
People can only cycle for food, medicines, or to care for people who need help. Punishment for violating the ban includes fines starting from €100 and even jail terms.
Though Britain has not banned cycling outright, there have been discussions that such a prohibition might soon be implemented if the infection rates do not slow down. The Executive Director of the UK’s Bicycle Association warned the government that such restrictions would be against the interests of the people.
“Cycling is an important part of U.K. resilience against the Coronavirus… It enables travel without using public transport, and in relative isolation. It also allows people to keep exercising without using gyms or going to classes,” he said, as reported by Forbes.
An immunity booster
A study from 2018 had found that cycling tends to rejuvenate the immune system. The researchers conducted a series of experiments on 125 amateur cyclists from the age group of 55 to 79. They then compared the results with that of healthy adults who had no habit of regular exercise.
“The cyclists preserved muscle mass and strength with age while maintaining stable levels of body fat and cholesterol. In men, testosterone levels remained high. More surprisingly, the anti-aging effects of cycling appeared to extend to the immune system,” according to The Guardian.
In the human body, there is an organ called the thymus, which is responsible for making immune cells known as the T-cells. The organ usually starts shrinking after people turn 20 years old. However, the thymuses in the cyclists were found to be producing as many T-cells as found with younger people.