Are Gyms Safe in Reopening Phase?

Although gyms and fitness studios are reopening in many regions as more people receive a COVID-19 vaccine, health experts still advise people to take their workout outdoors or participate virtually for a while longer. 

Recent outbreaks linked with a Chicago, Illinois fitness center has the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning that high-intensity indoor activities are a major risk for the spread of novel coronavirus.  Even when patrons wore masks upon entering the building,  were screened for symptoms and kept 6 feet apart, heavy breathing caused by exertion increased the risk of viral spread by aerosols. 

Exercise facilities will vary widely on how well they are able to keep a closed indoor environment safe.  Some have invested in improved ventilation systems or installed UV light disinfecting systems in addition to limiting class size.  But not all owners have the funds to equip their gyms with several levels of virus protection.  Because respiratory droplets can remain in a room for up to 3 hours, anywhere masks are removed indoors during exercise classes or workouts can be a risk. 

Until more people are fully vaccinated, it may be wise to take advantage of the warmer weather and find classes that are held outdoors if group activities are your preference to help keep you motivated.  Of course, there are a wide array of online classes available.  

If you do decide to go back indoors to work out, you may need to lower your usual intensity while wearing a mask until you adjust.  Studies have found that masks do not have an effect on blood oxygen levels, perceived exertion or heart rate, but it may feel like you can’t breathe as well while wearing a cloth or disposable mask. 

Learn more about what precautions to take when visiting gyms, fitness centers and studios by following this link to the CDC website’s Personal and Social Activities guidelines.