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

Updated on Jul 21, 2020 04:06 PM IST

Experts say that it depends on where you stay. If Covid-19 cases are poorly controlled where you live, 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.

People exercise at the parking lot of a gym, where its fitness equipment was temporarily moved, as the government has not announced a reopening date for fitness centers, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico July 15, 2020. (Representational)(via REUTERS)
People exercise at the parking lot of a gym, where its fitness equipment was temporarily moved, as the government has not announced a reopening date for fitness centers, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico July 15, 2020. (Representational)(via REUTERS)
Associated Press | ByAssociated Press | Posted by: Alfea Jamal

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

It depends on where you live and the precautions you and the gym take.

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.

To ensure everyone stays at least 6 feet apart, gyms should take steps such as moving machines, blocking off areas and limiting the number of people allowed inside, says Dr. Marybeth Sexton, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at Emory University.

A member exercises at a GoodLife Fitness Centers Inc. gym on its first day of reopening in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on Friday, July 17, 2020. Twenty-four districts, including Ottawa and Waterloo, are moving into the final stage of the three-part reopening plan as Covid-19 infections continue to drop. (Representational) (Bloomberg)
A member exercises at a GoodLife Fitness Centers Inc. gym on its first day of reopening in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on Friday, July 17, 2020. Twenty-four districts, including Ottawa and Waterloo, are moving into the final stage of the three-part reopening plan as Covid-19 infections continue to drop. (Representational) (Bloomberg)

Avoiding the locker room, bringing your own water bottle and using hand sanitizer also helps reduce risk, Sexton says.

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.

Also see | PHOTOS | Coronavirus: Gyms function with masks, outdoor exercises and social distancing

Gym staff should be cleaning exercise machines between uses and regularly wiping down other frequently touched areas with products that kill viruses.

And experts say face coverings should be worn at the gym whenever possible.

An employee places a 'please do not use' notice on a treadmill at a Pure Gym Group Plc health club, as they prepare for reopening from July 25, in the City of London, U.K., on Monday, July 20, 2020. (Representational) (Bloomberg)
An employee places a 'please do not use' notice on a treadmill at a Pure Gym Group Plc health club, as they prepare for reopening from July 25, in the City of London, U.K., on Monday, July 20, 2020. (Representational) (Bloomberg)

Sexton also suggests bringing a backup mask. If the one you’re wearing gets really damp with sweat, she says it might not be as effective.

Even for those being careful, gyms pose a risk. Many are indoors, where ventilation is limited and social distancing can be challenging. In an ongoing pandemic, if you can manage to break a sweat without returning to the gym just yet, that’s the best option, according to Sexton.

“If you can exercise by yourself outside, that’s safer than being at the gym,” she said.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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