As gyms reopen, we consulted an infectious disease expert on how to stay safe from germs during your workouts. Gyms, along with movie theaters and places of worship, were included in the first phase of the plan. But how do you know if it’s safe to go back to your gym?

Gyms and fitness studios were some of the first businesses to close their doors when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

According to the plan, gyms have to adhere to “strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols” when they reopen. It’s not clear what those specific protocols are at this time, but it’s likely the number of people allowed in a fitness center will be severely limited, you will have to remain 6 feet apart while exercising, you’ll need to sanitize equipment after using it, wash your hands more often, and you might even need to wear a mask.

Even with all of those measures in place, going back to the gym can seem risky. But at the same time, many people are itching to get back into a healthy routine and work out at a brick-and-mortar place that is not their living room.

To find out more insight on if going back to the gym soon is a good idea, and how to protect yourself when you go, I tapped infectious disease expert and MD Dr. Sandra Kesh. The CDC also recently updated its guidelines for best practices during personal and social activities, including going to the gym. Keep reading below for the best tips on how to stay safe when you head back to your gym.

Should you go to the gym when it reopens?

Many people are itching to get out of the house and back into society. But whether or not it’s really that safe for you to go is a complicated answer. According to Dr. Kesh, the safest place for you to exercise is outdoors . The CDC agrees, and saying that opting for outdoor workouts or virtual workouts is your safest bet.

Gyms are very well ventilated, but we do know how far this virus can spread. So if you are in a gym and you’re doing a vigorous workout, you’re breathing hard, someone near you might cough. There’s a lot of potential for aerosolization of things that in an outdoor setting is much less problematic, since the particles disperse very quickly in the open air.

If you live in a dense urban area with a lot of people walking around outside or little access to nature, going outside for exercise may not be an easy option for you.

Remember that virtual workouts are also an option, and many are completely free. You can find free workout classes on Instagram, and there are many free fitness YouTube channels that cater to all kinds of exercises.

How to stay safe when you go back to the gym

If you find yourself with no other option but to go to a gym, try to go at an off hour when it’s likely to be less crowded — like early morning, late morning and later in the evening — and wear your mask while you work out.

The CDC also recommends that you avoid or limit group training sessions or classes for the time being. But if you do exercise in a group, it’s highly important that you remain six feet away from others at all times and wear a mask.

When you use equipment at a gym, be extra vigilant about cleaning it before and after you use it. When it comes to cleaning equipment, wipe it down before and after. When we sweat and wipe our face and then touch the handle, we’re constantly exposing and saturating that device with germs. So clean off the equipment before and after, even if the person who used it before you looks totally fine. Remember that anywhere from 25% to 50% of infected people may not have symptoms but can still transmit the virus. The CDC says to avoid using certain types of equipment that are difficult to clean after each use, such as resistance bands or weightlifting belts.

What to look for if you go to a fitness studio class

If you do go back to a fitness class, Kesh recommends finding a studio that follows the practices listed below, at a minimum. You should also wear a cloth face mask in class to minimize exposure.

Ventilation: Ideally studios are prioritizing air flow by opening windows, using a fan or opening the doors to keep the air moving.

Spacing: The class should not be crowded, and people should be able to keep their distance without difficulty.

Instructors should be wearing a mask: “Because a lot of times they are speaking and projecting a loud voice. And you aerosolize the virus even when you’re speaking,” Kesh says.

Source : CNet

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