Is going to the gym safe during the COVID-19 pandemic? New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights just how much riskier attending small indoor fitness classes is than most people think, especially if the gym-goers athletes do not wear masks while exercising.
A case study showed that a Chicago resident attended an indoor exercise class while feeling sick. The resident then tested positive for the coronavirus. The gymnasium quickly closed, but 55 of the 81 people who attended the high-intensity classes eventually tested positive between August 24 and September 1, 2020. No one died, but one person was hospitalized for eight. days.
The CDC estimates that 40% of those infected attended class the day or the day after symptoms began. About 76% of participants rarely wore masks. Gym members brought their own weights and mats to classes, stayed six feet apart, and were screened for symptoms before class, but not everyone wore a mask while exercising . People also attended the class, who were awaiting their COVID-19 test results and then tested positive.
“Most participants did not wear a mask during exercise classes; infrequent use of a mask when participating in indoor exercise classes likely contributed to transmission,” CDC said in his report. Additionally, the potential for infected people to infect others between the date of their test and receipt of test results reinforces the need for quarantine pending the COVID-19 test result and avoid gatherings when they are unconsciously infectious. “
Experts say people should wait until warmer weather to exercise outside.
“If you can wait until spring and exercise outside, it will be much safer,” Joshua Epstein, professor of epidemiology at NYU’s School of Global Public Health, told the Washington Post. “We are by no means out of the woods. Now is not the time to relax.”
Epstein added that this “high-risk behavior” had predictable consequences.
“It’s high breathing in an enclosed space,” Epstein said. “Yes, people brought masks but obviously [a majority] said they rarely wore them, including some participants with covid. Some were symptomatic and some knew they were positive. All of these situations are very, very high risk. “
In a separate CDC report, public health investigators linked 31 coronavirus infections to a fitness instructor in Honolulu who has taught fitness classes at multiple facilities. According to the report, he taught a one-hour cycling class with 10 participants on June 29 – no one was wearing a mask. All participants tested positive for the coronavirus in early July. The epidemic led to the hospitalization of one person in the intensive care unit. Honolulu has passed emergency orders requiring face coverings at fitness centers, including during exercise. Before that, people could take off their masks while exercising.
Public health officials warn masks should be worn when exercising indoors, in addition to people staying at home when sick or awaiting coronavirus test results.
“To reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in fitness facilities, staff and clients should wear a mask, and the facility should apply consistent and correct mask use (including during activities). intensity) and physical distance, improve ventilation and remind clients and staff to stay home when sick, ”says the CDC. “Exercising outdoors or virtually could further reduce the risk of transmitting SARS-CoV-2.”