Many gyms across the U.S. are open with added precautions to help protect gym-goers against COVID's spread. But congregating indoors has its risks no matter what, and it turns out some gyms may be less safe than others. According to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is one telltale sign that a gym isn't safe to go into while the coronavirus is still spreading. Read on to find out if your gym isn't keeping you protected from COVID, and for more ways you could be vulnerable, If You've Done This Recently, You’re 70 Percent More Likely to Get COVID.
Don't go to gyms where you see infrequent mask wearing.
A CDC report released Feb. 24 observed data from indoor high-intensity classes at a Chicago exercise facility during one week in Aug. 2020. According to the report, 55 COVID cases were identified among the 81 people who had attended these classes—meaning 68 percent of the gym-goers developed coronavirus. And a reported 76 percent of attendees "wore masks infrequently," as the CDC says that patrons were required to wear masks when entering but allowed to remove their masks while exercising.
"To reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission in exercise facilities, employees and patrons should wear a mask, even during high-intensity activities when greater than six feet apart," the CDC stated in the report. "Infrequent mask use when participating in indoor exercise classes likely contributed to transmission." And for more guidance on masks, If You See This on Your Mask, the FDA Says Toss It Immediately.
You're likely to be at the gym alongside a COVID-positive person.
You may think you're safe at the gym, but other people's behavior could cost you. Among the positive cases, the CDC says that 78 percent overall likely participated in multiple classes while "potentially infectious," and 40 percent attended a class on or after the day their coronavirus symptoms began. In fact, the CDC noted that three patrons even attended a class on the same day or after they received a positive COVID test. Moreover, those with the coronavirus were also less likely to wear masks. According to the report, 84 percent of attendees with COVID reported infrequent mask use, while only 60 percent of those without COVID reported the same. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Indoor gyms are likely to facilitate increased levels of COVID spread.
The CDC has consistently warned that indoor spaces are the worst for coronavirus transmission, and indoor gyms are likely to be one of the worst offenders. According to the CDC report, "the increased respiratory exertion that occurs in the enclosed spaces of indoor exercise facilities facilitates transmission of SARS-CoV-2." As explained by an August South Korean study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, the moist, warm air in gyms combined with turbulent air flow released during intense exercise can cause increased levels of transmission. The CDC says that "conducting exercise activities entirely outdoors or virtually" is one way to reduce the risk of coronavirus spread. And for more on gym safety, This Is The Absolute Worst Place to Go in Your Gym During Coronavirus.
The CDC says gyms should be consistent in their precautions to prevent COVID from spreading.
There is always going to be some level of risk for catching the virus whenever you're around other people. However, the CDC does say there are ways "to reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission in fitness facilities." According to the agency, not only should employees and gym-goers wear a mask (even during high-intensity activities when greater than six feet apart), but facilities should also work on improving ventilation, as well as enforcing consistent and correct physical distancing, which includes maintaining more than six feet between all people and limiting class sizes. The CDC says that facilities should also make sure they are "reminding infected employees and patrons to stay home" and "increasing opportunities for hand hygiene." And for more advice from this agency, If You're Layering These Masks, the CDC Says to Stop Immediately.