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Is it safe to return to the gym at this point in the COVID-19 pandemic?


It is a fact that training in a closed space with other people continues to represent a risk, but health authorities offer recommendations to reduce the risk of contagion. We offer you more information to help you exercise safely.

We have been in a pandemic for more than a year and among many people the question persists: is it safe to return to gyms or yoga classes and other sports indoors? 

The first thing to say is that

exercising in a gym, with other people, continues to represent a risk of contagion of COVID-19

, according to health authorities.

"It has been shown that COVID-19 spreads in gyms, training classes and studios," says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). " 

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A recent CDC study, released in early March, revealed how despite various mitigation measures, 55 of 81 attendees of training sessions at a Chicago gym were infected during a COVID-19 outbreak in August last year.

This gym required the use of masks and carried out temperature and symptom controls upon entering.

Clients brought their own mats and weights and stood more than six feet apart.

However, they were allowed to remove the masks during the exercise.

"Infrequent use of masks while participating in indoor exercise classes likely contributed to transmission,"

the report notes.

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In recent months, gyms and sports centers have reopened in almost the entire country, in some cases after pressure from customers and owners of these venues.

But the truth is that health authorities continue to recommend exercise activities "completely outdoors or virtually" to reduce the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

The simplest way to prevent COVID-19 is to limit our exposure to the virus, avoiding crowded indoor spaces and limiting the amount of time we spend indoors with people who are not part of the same household, he recently explained in a congressional session. Specialist Linsey C. Marr, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, who has studied airborne virus transmission for more than a decade. 

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So what should people who decide to work out in a gym or fitness studio do?

Medical experts recommend wearing masks in gyms, even during high intensity activities, and staying at least six feet away from other people at all times.

Although some organizations, like the company Crossfit - which follows the guidelines of an advisory panel whose members include the engineer Linsey C. Marr - recommend that affiliated gyms keep at least 10 feet of distance between their clients.

A small group of people work out in a gym in Cardiff, Wales, on May 3, 2021, following the gradual opening up due to the pandemic in the UK. Rebecca Naden / Reuters

The CDC has a series of guidelines to reduce the risk of contagion of COVID-19 in gyms and closed training centers.

Here are some of them:

  • Limit high intensity activities to outdoor settings.

  • Wear a mask at all times and choose a gym that requires its use by staff and all clients.

  • Look for gyms or fitness venues that have high ceilings and good ventilation, where they open doors and windows and preferably use portable air purifiers with HEPA filters.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, before and after using the machines.

  • Go to the gym during the hours when there are fewer people, to reduce the risk of contagion. 

  • If you decide to train indoors, try to keep sessions brief, to avoid prolonged exposure to the virus.

    A 45-minute training session is riskier, considering that the CDC established a 15-minute threshold for approaching someone with COVID-19 to be considered “close contact,” according to a project note. 'Dear pandemic', a platform to combat misinformation about COVID-19, led by a group of researchers and medical specialists in the United States. 

  • Do not go to a gym if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or if you have a positive test even if you are asymptomatic. 

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Take into account that high-impact exercise probably increases the risk of contagion, since at higher intensity, there are more respiratory particles in the air.

Strenuous exercise, such as spinning or dancing classes, causes our respiratory rate to increase more than lighter workouts, such as yoga or Pilates, Dr. Michael Koehle, director of the Environmental Physiology Laboratory at the New York Times, explained to The New York Times. University of British Columbia. 

"At low intensities - yoga, Pilates, and some strength exercises - you can breathe more through your nose, which is a natural filter," Dr. Koehle said.

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On the other hand, if you have already been vaccinated against COVID-19 and received both complete vaccines, the risk of contracting the virus decreases considerably, according to Dr. Jenell Stewart, a specialist in infectious diseases and professor at the International Research Center, explained to Noticias Telemundo. University of Washington Clinics. However,

health authorities recommend that vaccinated people maintain safety protocols if they go to the gym or other closed spaces, especially the use of a tight-fitting mask. 

Prevention measures for gyms and training centers may vary in states and cities, as the infection rate and vaccination process progress. Know the rules that local gyms must follow. For example, in New York State, the number of people inside a gym is required not to exceed 33% of the maximum occupancy allowed under normal conditions, while in North Carolina, the number of people inside the gym building cannot exceed 75% of maximum emergency occupancy. 

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2021-05-04

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