We’ll be honest, gyms don’t necessarily conjure up thoughts of extreme cleanliness. And now, with the growing coronavirus outbreak, it’s easy to start feeling extra anxious around shared gym equipment and being in a confined space with dozens of other people – we get that. While the governments is taking measures to help prevent further spread of the virus—like recommending people work from home and now limiting the size of public gatherings, there is still a lot of uncertainty about what to do to prevent you or your loved ones from contracting the virus. So, what is the likelihood of contracting the virus from the gym?
To understand your risk of contracting coronavirus, you need to first understand how the virus spreads: Coronavirus (aka, SARS-CoV-2—COVID-19 is the name of the illness associated with it) is mainly spread directly from person-to-person, usually via close contact (within six feet), through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus is also spread indirectly, passing from person to person through contact with surfaces that have been touched by those infected.
Gyms in particular offer both direct and indirect transmission – clearly. In general, just like other public spots, the gym could easily house coronavirus germs—and that risk obviously rises as more cases of coronavirus are identified in a specific area. We can’t lie. But there are several things that you can do to ensure that you can keep training and reduce the likelihood of contracting the virus at the gym.
The best way to avoid coronavirus germs might sound simple, but it’s effective: Wash your hands—and keep washing them. Before you go to the gym, halfway through, when you leave—make sure you scrub with soap and water, especially if you’re going to touch food afterward or you know you touch your face often. You also want to skip high-fiving your neighbor after a tough set and maybe throw them a thumbs-up instead. Use alcohol wipes that the gym provides, or just the usual hand sanitizer will certainly suffice.
The other option, for the time being, is to simply purchase a pair of gym gloves – the type that a lot of people use regularly to avoid damaging your hands. Anything that you can do at the moment to prevent to regular touching of surfaces will clearly help you. And, obviously, make sure you use a towel! That is hopefully just common sense.
While individuals’ biggest shield from the disease is hand washing, gyms and studios across the country have also taken extra steps to keep their spaces extra clean. Countless gyms and studios have sent around emails telling clients of the extra precautions they’re taking to keep their studios clean—mainly, spending more time wiping down equipment and encouraging others to do the same. They also remind clients and trainers to frequently wash hands and stay home when sick. This is probably the main prophylaxis at the moment – gyms are really taking a lot of extra steps to keep their spaces clean.
So, should you keep training or avoid the gym? The answer is ultimately up to you, but skipping a workout isn’t necessarily the answer. As outlined above, there are ways to stay safe and keep training. Of course it’s important to keep aware and use extra precautions (a crowded marathon may not be your best bet right now), but keeping up your normal workouts is extremely valuable from a health perspective. But exercising and staying healthy, keeping your immune system as strong as possible, is only going to be helpful right now and regular exercise will obviously help to ensure just that.
Our advice – keep training but be safe. The physical and mental benefits of exercise at a time like this will outweigh the likelihood that you will contract the virus from the gym. As long as we are all taking the appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the disease there is not a lot to worry about with regards to training at your gym.
Yours in health!