It Is Entirely Up To You
Honestly, even under normal circumstances, a gym does not necessarily conjure up thoughts of extreme cleanliness. despite staffs’ best efforts. And now, with the growing coronavirus outbreak, it’s easy to start feeling extra anxious around shared gym equipment and communal locker rooms.
It’s with good reason, of course: According to the most recent numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, there have been more than 125,000 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) worldwide, with more than 1,629 of those cases in the United States. It would be easy to mistakenly assume that those at risk the most are travelers, but you might be shocked to learn that only 138 out of the more than 1,600 cases were related to travel. According to the CDC the cause of the other 1,362 cases are still under investigation. In other words it’s not known where or how those individuals contracted the virus.
Recently the World Health Organization (WHO) characterized the Coronavirus as a pandemic. While some local governments are taking measures to help prevent further spread of the virus by recommending that people work from home, or asking those in large cities to limit mass transit, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about what is (and isn’t) safe during an outbreak.
Case in point: Working out at your favorite gym or fitness studio. While getting your blood pumping certainly has its benefits to stave off illness and relieve stress (both extremely relevant right now), there’s still some concern about whether you can safely go to the gym. Here’s what you need to know about breaking a sweat while still protecting yourself from coronavirus.
What’s Your Risk Of Picking Up Coronavirus At The Gym?
To understand your risk of contracting coronavirus, you need to first understand how the virus spreads: According to the CDC, Coronavirus (aka, SARS-CoV-2—COVID-19) 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. It is believed that it can survive in the air for up to 3 hours, and on metal and plastic surfaces for up to 3 days.
Gyms in particular offer the possibility of both direct and indirect transmission. You can see the dangers when on an ordinary basis you’re dealing with hundreds of people coming through the doors each day. Anyone infected (including those who don’t even know it), could leave their germs on dumbbells, bands, cardio equipment, and even door handles at the gym.
What Can You Do To Decrease Your Risk Of Contracting Coronavirus?
The best way to avoid coronavirus germs is to wash your hands frequently. Wash them before you go to the gym, halfway through your workout, and when you leave the gym. Make sure you thoroughly scrub with soap and water, preferably an anti-microbial soap.
While your best 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, including SoulCycle, Orangetheory, and Equinox (to name a few) have sent around emails telling clients of the extra precautions they’re taking to keep their studios clean, 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.
Should You Keep Working Out, Or Avoid The Gym Altogether?
The answer is ultimately up to you,
Skipping your workouts isn’t the answer. It’s extremely important to take care of your body and mind. This includes good sleep habits, healthy nutrition, and regular exercise. Maintaining your normal workout routine is extremely valuable from a health perspective. Exercise can help regulate the autonomic nervous system and keep it in balance.
If heading to the gym for a workout puts you in panic mode, consider taking YOUR GYM workout home or head outside. One of the best natural immune boosters is Vitamin D, which is naturally produced by your body during exposure to the sun. Vitamin D helps keep your immune system stay balanced and healthy. According to research done in Norway, just 30-minutes of sunlight can be the same as consuming 10,000-20,000 IU’s of Vitamin D, so do your body a favor, and knock-out two birds with one stone, by taking those workouts outdoors!