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Health and Fitness News

Gym Exposure

Is it safe to exercise at your gym these days?

Perhaps you’ve gained the quarantine 15 and are ready to do the hard work of burning it off. As stay-at-home restrictions are lifting across the country, your gym is opening its doors, and you’re eager to get out and about. While you’ve been waiting weeks or months for this day to come, you’re worried that it may not be safe to exercise indoors with other people sweating, huffing, and puffing nearby.

You know the best way to protect yourself from infection is to avoid crowds, keep six feet apart, wear a mask, and wash your hands. And while gyms pose certain risks when it comes to spreading COVID, the risk can be minimized when staff and patrons take proper precautions. Here’s what you can do to lessen your chances of exposure at the gym.

Ask Questions

It’s smart to find out what your gym is doing to protect you from possible exposure. Before you show up for a session with your trainer, call to learn their plan of action. A few questions to ask might include the following:

• Is the gym limiting capacity to allow for easier social distancing? If so, do you need to make a reservation or check in online?
• Does the gym perform temperature checks on members prior to entry?
• Are the staff required to wear masks?
• How often is the gym equipment cleaned and sanitized?
• Are the bathrooms or locker rooms open?
• Has the gym installed any barriers between equipment or spaced equipment apart?
• Is any of the equipment off limits due to sanitizing difficulty?

While there isn’t necessarily a correct answer to any of these, knowing them will help you make a choice that you’re comfortable with.

Evaluate Your Own Health

If you or someone you live with are at high risk for a serious COVID infection due to an underlying health condition, obesity, or age, or if there are a high number of cases in your community, it may be smart to avoid the gym and exercise outdoors or in your own home. Contact your trainer to learn about available online or virtual workout classes.

And remember—you don’t want to be the one who spreads COVID-19. So avoid the gym for 14 days after being exposed to the virus. If you experience COVID-like symptoms, stay home for at least 10 days, until you’ve been fever-free without medication for 24 hours, and until symptoms have improved.

Take These Precautions

Once at the gym, you should continue to take certain steps to reduce your risk of exposure to the virus. Thankfully, you don’t have to sweat sweat. Because the coronavirus isn’t spread through sweat. Rather, it passes via aerosol droplets that enter the air or land on surfaces when an infected person talks, breathes heavily, coughs, or sneezes.

To avoid these droplets, stay at least six feet away from other patrons, whether lifting weights, walking through the gym, participating in an exercise class, or using the locker room. Avoid sharing equipment or using equipment that hasn’t been sanitized, and use hand sanitizer after touching equipment.

Since the virus can enter the air through heavy breathing and working out causes you to breathe in deeply, keep your distance from others. Because the farther apart you are from others, the safer you are.

And while you may see people running outside with a mask on, it’s not the best idea. In fact, wearing a mask isn’t recommended anywhere when you’re exerting yourself. However, it’s not a bad idea to toss one on when walking around the gym or using the locker room.

As a final precautionary measure, wash your hands and toss your used workout clothes in the laundry immediately when you arrive home.

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