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by Gemma Fraser
30 September 2020
Talking Point: The legacy of lockdown

Talking Point: The legacy of lockdown

Lockdown has left different legacies for different people.

For me, like many others, the overarching legacy has been my appreciation of The Great Outdoors. Or, to be more accurate, my appreciation of just being outdoors.

During the height of lockdown restrictions, I relished the daily walk I had with my family, exploring the fields around where we live, noticing things we had never seen before, spotting the wildlife, listening to the sound of silence.

As the walls in our house regularly felt they were closing in on me, an escape to the haven of my back garden made everything far more bearable. The sound of children playing outside and birdsong replaced the noise we usually hear from living beside the Borders Railway line and being on the Edinburgh airport flight path.

I started running again, the lure of just being outdoors winning over my body’s protests. I found new routes, loved running along streets without constant traffic passing by, explored the grounds of a National Trust estate in relative peace.

I started swimming in the sea near where I live, partly for exercise and partly for the healing powers of cold water on body and mind.

And, like 99.9 per cent of the population, I took up cycling – though I feel the need to point out that my January bike purchase was actually more of a new year’s resolution than the result of a global pandemic.

I had also promised my eldest daughter that when she became confident on two wheels, I would join her, despite not having been on a bike for more than 15 years.

But it was during lockdown that long family cycles really became a part of our life in a way I hadn’t ever expected. Going out on our bikes wasn’t about having a mode of transport to get from A to B, or to take us to an activity; it became the activity.

We found new places, discovered an abundance of cycle paths on our doorstep, took picnics, stopped off at playparks en-route (once they reopened) and I was surprised by how liberated I felt as I freewheeled down big hills. It brought back happy memories of my childhood and I hope my daughters will be able to say the same in years to come.

As well as my own awakening to the joys of being outdoors, I loved watching others and how they substituted gyms and indoor sports with the natural assets they had available.

I witnessed early morning beach yoga, socially distanced boot camps and my local outdoor gym – which I had only ever seen kids play on before – was used for serious workouts.

Swarms of cyclists and runners took advantage of the practically car-free roads, and it's a sight I miss every day now that heavy traffic has resumed.

For me, despite the fear, anxiety and restrictions COVID-19 placed upon us, in many ways I felt more free.

Being outdoors, making the most of what we have around us has changed the way I live my life. Meeting friends for a walk, cycle or swim in the sea has become as normal as meeting up for a drink in the pub.

I know life is starting to return to pre-COVID normality, but when I look around and still see people doing a kettlebell workout on the beach or setting up a fitness class in a playpark, I have hope that this lockdown legacy of appreciating what we have around us can live on. 

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