United Kingdom

Horrifying simulation shows how six feet may not be enough when jogging behind someone

A new simulation appears to indicate that current social distancing guidelines may not be enough to keep joggers safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

The video, created by simulation technology company Ansys, shows that droplets cab spread more than six feet behind you while you are walking, running or cycling.

Because of this, running side-by-side with someone may actually be safer than running behind them so you don't directly come into contact with any droplets, engineers say. 

With more than 400,000 confirmed cases of the new virus and more than 13,000 deaths, health experts say that increasing the amount of distance between you and others while outside is one of the key elements to helping flatten the curve.  

A new video simulations shows two scenarios, in which two people jog side-by-side (above) and then one behind the other

The scenario in which one jogs behind the others resulted in more droplets being spread (above)

Researchers say it may be safer to run next to somebody (left) or to run behind someone but in staggered formation (right) because droplets are spread directly behind an infected person

'If we see a whale or dolphin blow through their blowhole, we can see the water and jump out of way if we have to,' Marc Horner, the principal engineer for healthcare at Ansys, told DailyMail.com

'But if someone sneezes or coughs, it happens so quickly and the droplets are so small, [the simulation gets] that mental image in your mind of how far away you need to stand so gravity has time to pull the droplets down.'  

Federal health officials chose six feet as the guideline for social distancing because of the way that respiratory droplets travel.

When an infected person coughs or sneezes, droplets typically travel no more than six feet before gravity pulls them to the ground.

The video shows two scenarios: one in which two people are running side-by-side and another in which they are running one behind the other.

In the side-by-side scenario, when one person coughs or sneezes, the majority of the droplets travel behind the runners, not next to them.

This is what makes the scenario in which one person jogging six feet behind another person so unsafe, Horner explains.

'If someone coughs, those droplets are suspended in the air and, if you are six feet behind, you are going to run right into them and it doesn't give them enough time to fall to the ground,' he said.

'The droplets go straight out and go behind you so if you're next to someone - ignoring wind conditions -  it won't hit you.' 

If you don't feel safe enough running next to somebody else, run behind them in staggered formation, meaning not directly behind them.

Lorner says this will help prevent cough or sneeze droplets from landing directly on you. 

The simulations comes on the heels of recent reports that find that six feet may not  be enough to be protected from the new virus.

According to Wired.com, when large droplets of mucus are expelled with extreme force (such as from sneezing rather than talking) or carried by the wind, they can travel more than six feet before falling to the ground.  

Lorner explains that he and his fellow engineers exaggerated the size of the droplets so people could understand how quickly they can travel. 

'Once you have  the mental image in your head, you say: "Okay, running behind someone six or 10 feet might not be enough, I need to be even further back",' he said.

'People need to see why we follow the social distancing guidelines out there and getting that mental image of why helps.' 

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