A lot of us have been creative about getting healthful exercise while staying at home — but a lot of us have also found that challenging. In a recent survey, 70% of Americans say their at-home efforts are less effective than what they were doing before the pandemic. Getting safely back to the gym is a high priority for a lot of us.
Arkansas has no restrictions on gyms, so getting back to spin class is possible. But is it safe?
Gym use is not completely safe
Gym use is not on the CDC’s list of safe activities. There have been documented outbreaks from gym classes. But there are a lot of factors involved.
COVID-19 is spread primarily through droplets from infected people’s respiratory systems. Gyms and exercise classes tend to involve heavy breathing in enclosed spaces, so they are not as safe an exercise option as a hike in the woods.
Check with your gym to find out what precautions they are taking before you decide when to get back to your workouts.
- Are they requiring masks?
- Are they using social distancing?
- Do they have high ceilings, HEPA filters, and good ventilation?
- Is their equipment disinfected between uses?
- Are they screening patrons at the door?
If you are fully vaccinated, you can feel more confident about getting safely back to the gym. However, we still don’t know for sure whether fully vaccinated people can spread COVID-19.
Here are steps you can take to make sure your gym visit is as safe as possible:
- Head for the gym during less popular times. Ask the staff when peak attendance times are, and plan your visits for times when fewer people are at the facility.
- Choose low-intensity activities for indoor exercise, since high-intesity activities increase the spread of droplets. Yoga is safer than basketball right now.
- Skip the locker room, sauna, and other enclosed, crowded areas.
- Maintain social distancing. While gym outbreaks have taken place in facilities that kept people 6′ apart, you are less likely to be infected at a greater distance. Avoid high fives and other contact, too.
- Wear a mask. Outbreaks at gyms resulted in fewer cases among those who wore masks. Exercising while wearing a mask has not been shown to be harmful. Carry an extra mask in case you need to replace your mask with a fresh one while exercising. However, the CDC emphasizes that any exercise too intense for a mask should be practiced outdoors.
- Carry disinfectant wipes and clean off equipment before and after you use it.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often.
Following these protocols will help keep you as safe as possible as you head back to the gym.