Should You Avoid Your Workout Because of the Coronavirus?
March 09, 2020
You may think that being around crowds of people who share fitness equipment in a gym and are breathing heavy may be a good place to catch the coronavirus infection.
The Coronavirus, aka “COVID-19,” is believed to spread through inhaling respiratory droplets that are released when an infected person sneezes or coughs, or from touching an infected surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
If there’s a COVID-19 outbreak in your area, there could certainly be a risk of contracting it at the gym, so it might be a good idea not to go. It’s logical to think that the more people who touch shared objects—like, say, weights and cardio machines—the higher the risk that someone could leave behind a virus, potentially passing it on to others.
But this type of surface contamination has not been of much worry to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the COVID-19 outbreak. “Transmission of coronavirus occurs much more commonly through respiratory droplets than through contact with contaminated surfaces,” the agency wrote.
But even if there are no cases of COVID-19 where you live, it still makes sense to be cautious. Washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, not touching your face, covering your cough or sneeze and staying home if you're sick.
So, if you're not ready to create your own home gym with a treadmill, elliptical, a bike and some weights, there are certainly few things you can do to protect yourself.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself from Germs?
Keep Working out
Physical activity can boost your immune system. Getting moderate amounts of physical activity to lower overall risk is a good move.
While the Centers for Disease Control has said that wearing a mask isn’t necessary for the average person, wearing cloth gloves during your workout may be helpful.
Research has shown that equipment surfaces in fitness facilities tend to have the most germs, not necessarily in bathrooms or locker rooms. (And though it’s unclear how long COVID-19 can survive on surfaces, studies suggest that other types of coronaviruses can do so for two hours to nine days.) So, wipe down your equipment.
Choose Off-Peak Times
Try to plan your gym time when you know it is less crowded. This way there will be fewer people touching and using the equipment.
Limit physical touch, like handshakes or high-fives, while you’re there, and be sure to wash your hands properly when you arrive and before you leave, and, most importantly -- don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
Best health to you!