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Is It Safe to Visit the Gym Again?

A man on the treadmill.
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For many people, physical activity is a valuable way to ease stress during challenging times. It’s also important for your overall physical health, reducing the risk of everything from cancer to heart disease.

The government recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, plus two days of muscle-strengthening moves, per week, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If you had a regular fitness routine before, the closure of gyms and other facilities likely meant you had to think creatively about how to meet your exercise goals. As restrictions lift, you may have questions about what’s safe for you and your family when it comes to fitness and related activities. Here’s what we know right now.

Gym Openings Will Vary by Area

Local and state officials are deciding when it is safe to reopen businesses, like gyms and fitness studios, which bring many people into close contact and can expose people to aerosols and contact droplets. The federal government recommends waiting until COVID-19 case numbers are slowing and testing is widely available.

You May Notice Differences

When gyms and other businesses do reopen, the CDC recommends that they adhere to certain precautions. These include frequent cleaning and disinfection of commonly touched surfaces and asking staff and guests to stay home if they’re sick.

Some gyms and related businesses may choose to make other changes, such as:

  • Altering the layout or setup of the space to make social distancing easier

  • Keeping more doors and windows open, for increased ventilation and to decrease the number of people touching them

  • Removing soft, porous objects, such as chairs with fabric upholstery

  • Taking some shared objects out of common areas like lobbies and locker rooms

Steps You Can Take to Sweat Safely

When you do go back to the gym, you can take precautions to reduce your risk of spreading any infectious disease. These include:

  • Bringing your own sanitized personal equipment when possible, including towels, water bottles and mats

  • Keeping sweaty clothes in a separate gym bag from clean ones

  • Showering with soap and water immediately after your workout

  • Wiping down machines with disinfectant before and after you use them

The CDC still recommends wearing cloth face coverings in places where it’s difficult to maintain social distancing. However, these face coverings don’t mean you can stand or work out closer to others. You should still keep your distance as much as possible.

If you don’t feel well, you should skip the gym — or any other outing except medical treatment — and stay home.

And people who have a high risk for complications from coronavirus should still stay home as often as possible, the CDC says. This includes adults age 65 or older, those with compromised immune systems and people with underlying conditions, such as diabetes and asthma.

If the Pool’s Open, You Can Swim Safely

Aquatic fitness fans are in luck, provided they have access to the right facilities. There’s no evidence that coronavirus spreads through water, the CDC says. And chemicals like chlorine and bromide kill viruses and other germs in pools.

If you are able to swim, just make sure you steer clear of large gatherings. Wash your hands frequently, especially after using public facilities or before eating.

Other Options for Physical Activity

Of course, as many people have recently learned, moving your body doesn’t require visiting a gym, the World Health Organization (WHO) points out. An increasing array of online classes and videos has allowed people to stay fit in the comfort of their living rooms.

Especially as warm weather returns, outdoor exercise offers the stress-relieving benefits of nature, as well as a daily dose of vitamin D. Hiking, running, cycling and water sports all represent safe options, provided the area you’re planning to visit is open and you can keep an adequate distance from others.

You can also take creative steps to stay connected with your fitness community. For instance:

  • Call someone while you take a walk outside

  • Coordinate with your neighbors to decorate yards, balconies or windows so that you have new scenery during outdoor workouts. You can even plan neighborhood, socially distant costume walks or scavenger hunts

  • Meet up via your screen, in online classes

  • Post your planned workouts on social media and ask others to do the same routine

Knowledge Brings Peace of Mind

AdventHealth is committed to providing the latest information to keep you and your family healthy. For more tips on improving your wellness, visit our Wellness Care site today.

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