Coronavirus Resources

Coronavirus Pandemic: Why the Gym Isn’t Safe Right Now

A young black woman lifts a barbell at the gym
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To keep everyone safe, public health guidelines are changing rapidly across the country due to COVID-19. To help stop the virus from spreading, businesses and stores that were open last week may not be open now — including your favorite gym. Here’s what you need to know, and how to still stay fit when you can’t take that fitness class or get to your exercise studio.

Why Public Places Like Gyms Aren’t Safe Right Now

Getting daily exercise is important, even during a pandemic like COVID-19. But public places like gyms are risky right now as coronavirus spreads. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your risk of exposure to the virus is much greater if you are around a lot of people.

Even in the best of times, gyms are places where germs tend to multiply fairly quickly. After all, many people are constantly sharing the same weights and machines and working out on the same exercise mats throughout the day. All these surfaces must be constantly disinfected to be safe, and everyone who uses them must also be diligent to wash and sanitize their hands.

In addition, if you pick up the virus at a gym, you then put other people around you at risk. Even if you only get mild symptoms, COVID-19 can seriously harm or endanger others who are at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus, such as older adults or people with chronic medical conditions.

How Coronavirus Spreads

To understand why gyms aren’t safe right now, it’s important to know how coronavirus spreads — and how long it lasts on surfaces.

Person-to-Person Spread

According to the CDC, coronavirus spreads in between people who are in close contact with each other, and through respiratory droplets from an infected person who’s coughing or sneezing.

Respiratory droplets from a cough or sneeze can travel up to 6 feet. That’s why public health officials advise social distancing to help stop the spread of coronavirus. This means staying home as much as possible. It also means staying at least 6 feet away from others outside your immediate household when you’re in a public place.

Coronavirus Can Survive on Surfaces

In addition, coronavirus can survive for some time on certain surfaces, new research says. A recent study by the CDC, the National Institutes of Health and other scientific researchers found that coronavirus can live:

  • In aerosols for up to three hours
  • On cardboard for up to 24 hours
  • On plastic and stainless steel for up to three days

With this information in mind, it’s important to continue to clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in your home, like smartphones, countertops, doorknobs and light switches.

Find Local Coronavirus Updates

Whether it’s safe to go to the gym may change over time as this coronavirus outbreak continues. Visit our Coronavirus Resource Hub often for the latest coronavirus guidance.

You can also check online with your’ state’s department of health. There you can find important links to public advisories from local government officials, including what types of businesses are open in your area. The CDC has a convenient link to all U.S. state health departments.

For Now, Get a Virtual Workout

Many gyms are now streaming online versions of their fitness and stretching classes — check to see if yours is doing so. If not, there are many free video workouts available online. And some paid subscription fitness services are now offering extended free trials. For now, stay home to keep yourself safe, and get in a good workout from your house.

Old-School Workouts Still Work at Home

There are plenty of exercises that most people can do from home, using your own body weight. For example:

  • Jump rope
  • Lunges
  • Pushups
  • Sit-ups
  • Squats

If you’re worried your technique may be rusty, search online for related how-to instructions and videos. For more workout options, check out our easy ways to exercise at home during a pandemic.

Take Your Workout Outside

Walking, running and cycling are options, too. Just be careful whenever you are outside to follow the CDC’s social distancing rules and stay 6 feet away from others. If you live in an urban area, check out how busy the streets are before going outside. Move to the other side of the street if people are coming near you on the sidewalk.

We’re Here to Help

At each stage of the pandemic, we’re here for you with the latest information to help keep you and your family healthy. To stay up-to-date on coronavirus, check out our Coronavirus Resource Hub.

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