Is It Safe to Go Back to the Gym? Here Are 5 Factors to Consider, According to a Doctor

Maggie Ryan

State by state, coronavirus shelter-in-place measures are beginning to ease and gyms are starting to open their doors once more. Guidelines vary widely depending on your gym, your state, and even your city - check here to see the current gym reopening guidelines for your state - but the ultimate decision will be an individual one. If your gym is open, is it actually safe to go right now? And what factors should you consider to make the safest decision?

Is It Safe to Go to My Gym Now?

Case counts and guidelines still vary widely by region, but if your gym is one of the ones that's opening back up, it is "relatively safe" to go, said Anthony Barile, MD, infectious disease medical director at Health First - provided that "people are wearing masks, washing their hands, and cleaning the equipment," he told POPSUGAR, as well as following social distancing guidelines.

That being said, Dr. Barile stated that "the gym is a place where community transmission is more likely due to the shared spaces and equipment." And if you're in the high-risk or immunocompromised category, "the gym may not be the safest option," he noted.

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Coronavirus Gym Safety Checklist

In order to make the most informed decision, look into how your gym is adhering to coronavirus safety measures. Here are some factors to check on and questions to ask.

According to Dr. Barile, your gym should:

  • Follow six-foot social distancing measures. Your gym should be altering its equipment set-up and capacity limitations so you can stay six feet away from others as much as possible.

  • Provide plenty of hygiene products. Ask if your gym will provide sanitation wipes, hand sanitizer, and hand-washing stations around the gym.

  • Regularly clean high-touch areas. Gyms themselves will need to be cleaned more frequently than before the pandemic, as the coronavirus can be transmitted by touching an infected surface (though this is less likely than inhaling the virus from a cough or sneeze). Patrons should also be discouraged from using shared equipment until it's been properly cleaned.

  • Check temperatures. Many states are requiring both patrons and employees to have their temperatures checked at the gym entrance, using methods that don't require close contact (such as forehead thermometers.)

  • Recommend the use of face masks. Gym employees will likely be required to wear face coverings and you'll be encouraged to do so as well, especially in areas where social distancing isn't possible. Try one of these breathable face masks for max comfort during a workout.

Even if your gym checks off all the boxes, remember that "it's still everyone's responsibility to limit the spread of the virus," Dr. Barile said. That means thoroughly wiping down equipment with sanitizing wipes (before and after use), wearing a face mask, and washing your hands frequently with soap and water and for at least 20 seconds each time. The hard truth: "If your gym doesn't make these procedures feasible," Dr. Barile said, "Then a better alternative would be to work out at home or go to a different gym that prioritizes sanitization and safety."

Check out free home workouts here and tips on getting the most out of your home fitness routine.

Related: Study Says Shutdowns Put in Place Avoided 60 Million More Coronavirus Infections in the US

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