Prime Minister Boris Johnson caused confusion over excercise rules during lockdown when he was seen cycling in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London on Sunday (10 Jan), seven miles away from his residence in Downing Street.

Labour MP, Andy Slaughter, has accused Mr Johnson of failing to lead by example. However, Downing Street told the BBC the Prime Minister exercised within the current Covid rules.

On Thursday, Home Secretary, Priti Patel cause further confusion during an appearance on This Morning. 

When asked to clarify the rules by hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, Ms Patel said: "The clarity is exercising on your own and not socialising.

"The point to make about any exercise - yes, it should be local, people exercise differently. But exercise on your own and don't use it for a social meeting."

On cycling, she said: "cycling is fine, because you are on your own, you should not be cycling with other people."

She added: "Running, exactly in the same way because you are on your own, walking on your own."

Guidelines state you can excercise with one other person, and a spokesperson later said the Home Secretary was aware of the rules and was suggesting that it is "always best to do things on your own when you can".

With varying interpretations of the of the rules concerning exercise across the UK, here is a breakdown of the rules on exercise. 

What are the rules for outdoor exercise?

People living in England are currently allowed to leave their home to exercise. However, it is recommended that this should be limited to once a day, and people should not travel outside their local area to do it.

You are allowed to exercise with the people you live with, with a support bubble, or with one person from another household. If the person is not your household, you must stay two metres apart, or one metre apart with a face covering.

People in Scotland can exercise outside, so long as the activity starts and finishes at the same place, and adheres to the rules on meeting households. Cycling, running, walking and swimming are all allowed, and one-to-one personal training can continue.

In Northern Ireland, only individual or household outdoor exercise is permitted. You cannot participate in personal one-to-one training sessions or group activities, such as running or cycling.

Physical education delivered by or for schools, pre-schools and other education providers is permitted to continue.

Where am I allowed to exercise?

The rules allow people to exercise in public outdoor spaces, including parks, beaches, public gardens, playgrounds and the countryside.

Sports venues, including golf courses, swimming pools and tennis courts, have been required to close.

In Scotland, outdoor gyms have also been allowed to remain open during the lockdown period.

How far can I travel to exercise?

In England, national lockdown guidelines state that exercise “should be done locally wherever possible”.

However, you are allowed to “travel a short distance within your area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space).”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has tried to add clarity about what counts as a short distance. Speaking at the Downing Street conference, he said: “If you went for a long walk and ended up seven miles away from home, that is OK.”

In Scotland, the Government stipulates that you are allowed to travel five miles from the boundary of your local authority to exercise.

Can I drive to exercise?

The short answer is no. Travel should only be undertaken for essential purposes, and exercise should be taken locally.

Can I sit on a park bench while exercising?

Residents in England and Scotland are being urged to only leave their house for essential reasons and exercise.

In England, people have been warned about not sitting on park benches and chatting with friends, amid a rise in rule bending during the latest lockdown.

Downing Street has clarified that sitting on a park bench for a “short pause” during exercise is reasonable, but leaving the home just to sit in public is unlawful under the current lockdown rules.

Vaccinations Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, advised people to stop socialising in parks under the guise of exercise.