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A new online seminar series is exploring the ‘ethics of exercise’ during coronavirus lockdown measures in the UK.

Image of person walking on autumnal leaves.

Run by David Lyreskog, a postdoctoral researcher in the Neuroscience, Ethics & Society (NEUROSEC) group in the Department of Psychiatry, the series looks at questions of why, how and when we should be exercising – both in lockdown and beyond. 

Current lockdown measures in the UK include limitations and restrictions on outdoor and group exercise, while in parallel exercise is generally encouraged for physical and mental health.

Topics covered in the multidisciplinary seminars include risk mitigation, social signalling, stigmatisation, and mental and physical health impacts.

 

The guidelines about exercise during the UK lockdown stood out to me as a topic of great importance to the public. As one of the few valid "excuses" permitting people to leave the home, there was – and still is – a remarkable amount that is unclear about what exactly we are supposed to be doing as a form of exercise, and when and how we should be doing it David Lyreskog, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford.

 

By running the series, David aims to ‘bridge the gap’ between the growing public interest in this topic – particularly during the pandemic – and the lack of attention it is receiving. 

There is a wide range of ethical issues specifically tied to exercise in these times, which need to be scrutinised.

  • To what extent do the guidelines trigger and/or worsen cases of eating disorders, depression and anxiety?
  • What do we signal to others by being out exercising in public, and is that something we should consider at all?
  • How, if at all, can we assess whether the exercise restrictions were implemented in an ethically justifiable manner?

 

David continues, ‘Ultimately, it boils down to fundamental, ethical questions about what people – as individuals and as groups – ought to be doing when there is no clear “right” answer to be had. My hope is that by analysing the ethical dimensions of our situation, we can learn from these experiences and improve our understanding of the relationships between exercise, health and morality – not only for any lockdown scenarios to come, but more generally for our future.’

The first seminar took place on 7 May and featured guest speaker Dr Jonathan Pugh from the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, as well as discussion among attendees. It is available to watch here.

David will be running future sessions on Zoom at the following dates and times:

Session 2: 21 May 2020, 3-3.45pm

Session 3: 28 May 2020, 3-3.45pm

Session 4: 4 June 2020, 3-3.45pm

Please email David for details if you would like to attend.

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