Is it safe to go to the gym during the coronavirus pandemic?

Endri Farka

The Coronavirus pandemic has brought everything around us to a standstill for some time  — affecting nearly every activity in the world. One of the sectors that was hit hardest by the pandemic were local gyms, considered one of the places at greatest risk of viral spread and infection.

The pandemic has certainly caused a significant lifestyle change, especially for fitness enthusiasts and gym-addicts. Governments’ decisions to open gyms restored enthusiasm, especially in the fitness conscious person. But the decision to return to the gym has not been an easy one:

Is it safe to go back to the gym during the Coronavirus pandemic?

Do I have to worry that a workout in a hot and sweat-laden fitness center makes me more likely to catch COVID?

Is this a smart decision to make while living with my parents, or other older relatives?

These are some of the questions that younger people struggle with, while contemplating a return to the gym.   Considering that it is difficult to fully protect yourself inside of a gym, according to experts,  and it is wise to be “better safe, than sorry”..

But things are different in different places.  It depends on where you live and the precautions you and the gym take.

The Norway study took place in a community with only a few coronavirus cases. It’s possible that gyms located in areas with higher rates of COVID could be riskier. For example, South Korea in April linked a coronavirus outbreak to fitness dance classes at 12 different gyms. In a research letter in the August 2020 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, scientists that researched the outbreak said that intense physical exercise in crowded sports facilities could increase the risk of infection. About one in four Americans who worked out at least twice a week say they’ll never go to a gym again, according to a survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of LifeAid Beverage Company.

If cases of COVID-19 are poorly controlled where you live, experts say it’s best to stay away. But if you live in an area where the spread is being contained, there are ways to minimize risk when going for a workout.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also suggests checking in online, rather than in person, and seeking activities that are outdoors instead of indoors when possible.

If you’re at higher risk of serious illness, you might consider waiting to return to the gym. Ask if your gym offers virtual classes or training.

How to stay safe when you return to the gym?

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, some states are reporting record-high cases and hospitalizations.

Although gyms are reopening, it is still preferable to exercise outdoors versus in a confined space if you have that option.

In a gym, heavy breathing may spread infectious droplets further, and without proper ventilation, this puts you at higher risk of catching or transmitting the disease.

What should you do to keep yourself safe at the gym?

To protect yourself you should limit contact with others, social distance, try to wash your hands regularly, and wipe down equipment before you use it.

Make sure there is enough space in your gym so that people aren’t working out in close proximity to each other.

Try to go to a gym that has limited the amount of people allowed at any one time. And don’t forget to bring your own water, as you’ll want to avoid using a drinking fountain.

It is also important to limit what you bring to the gym — as few things as possible. Don’t use locker rooms that will be touched by many others. Use the bathroom at home and skip your shower at the gym.

Should you wear a mask or gloves when working out?

According to experts, washing hands is preferable to wearing gloves. Most people who wear gloves are not changing or cleaning them frequently enough, and so are more likely to be touching surfaces with dirty gloves.

Wearing a mask will help cut down on your risk of transmitting the virus to others and can help you avoid touching your face, and limit your exposure to the virus.

However, exercising with a mask on may make it more difficult to breathe, for which you can compensate by limiting your exercise intensity and workload.   Additionally, a mask collects moisture due to sweat, limiting its effectiveness.

Reference:

https://www.runnersworld.com

https://www.bloomberg.com

https://www.webmd.com

https://www.cnn.com

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