If you are thinking about going back to the gym, think twice, experts say. Even though some gyms are reopening, they are still a hotbed for disease transmission, with potentially contaminated surfaces, lack of social distancing, heavy breathing, and so on. While many Americans miss their workouts for both physical and mental reasons, it's not safe to go back into the water, say experts, because COVID-19 is still a threat.
Despite the potential danger, some gyms are planning to reopen in May in states like Georgia and Oklahoma. This has caused many healthcare professionals to cringe, according to Vox.
"Gyms can be difficult places to maintain social distancing and the volume of high-touch surfaces and objects make them uniquely challenging for infection prevention efforts," Dr. Saskia Popescu, an infection prevention epidemiologist and biodefense researcher, told Vox. "Moreover, in those environments where social distancing is difficult, the CDC has recommended masks, which you really can't do when working out."
Hong Kong did not have any new cases of COVID-19 on April 20, but the government will not allow gyms to reopen until at least two weeks after that, Time reported. The United States has surpassed 1 million confirmed cases and 60,000 deaths. Georgia has seen more than 25,000 cases.
"One of my biggest concerns is gyms opening in states like Georgia, where there is continued community transmission but the governor has pushed to open," said Popescu.
Here are some of the safety measures Gold's Gyms in Georgia will institute, according to USA Today:
- Limiting the areas members can use to strength training and cardio equipment.
- Scheduling intermissions during the day when members are not allowed in the gym while cleaning crews clean all surfaces.
- Restricting members to a per-person cap based on the square footage of the gym.
- Gradually allowing gyms to reach a 50% capacity and resuming group classes with markers on the floor indicating where members can stand in the second phase of reopening.
Other gyms have adopted similar measures, with some asking that members wear gloves while using the equipment and sanitizing equipment every 30 minutes. Exercise facilities are also spacing out their equipment to honor the six-foot social distancing rule.
But experts told Vox that they encourage people to stay away from gyms for a while longer and try alternatives like working out at home with online training or virtual fitness classes.
"In areas with continued or increasing community transmission but opening gyms, I would discourage going to the gym and focus on what you can do at home or outside," Popescu said.
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