Can I still go to the gym during the coronavirus outbreak? Here's the expert advice

Friday, 13th March 2020, 2:15 pm
Updated Friday, 13th March 2020, 2:24 pm

Going to the gym is part of many people’s weekly or even daily routine, but with fears surrounding the spread of the Covid-19 strain of coronavirus escalating, exercising has become yet another source of concern.

Although Public Health England has not yet issued any specific advice on gyms, other medical experts and popular gym chains have been speaking about the risks and steps being taken to protect customers.

Gyms are 'high risk' locations

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As reported in the Independent, Dr Norman Swan, a physician and journalist, identified gyms as “high risk” locations for the disease to spread.

Speaking on the ABC’s Coronacast – a podcast dedicated to answering questions about coronavirus, he said, “One of the high prevalence areas from some of the Chinese data are gyms.”

The medical expert continued by explaining that gyms are the perfect place for the virus to spread because they are often humid.

“Dampness is a bad thing for spreading germs so you want to swab those surfaces down. It doesn't mean you stop going to the gym but you've got to be super careful," he advised.

Swan added that while there is no evidence of coronavirus being spread through sweat, transmission can occur if someone with the virus coughs or sneezes onto their hands and then touches surfaces, such as gym equipment.

Because of this, he suggested that hygiene standards must be increased during workouts.

Gym chains changing policies

A number of gym chains across the UK have also introduced new policies to reassure its members safety.

PureGym recently published a notice on its website, informing customers that it has “increased the level of cleaning and hygiene” in all gyms, including ensuring all hand sanitisers and soap dispensers are filled.

The outlet also asked its members to help reduce the spread of illness through good personal hygiene, including “frequent hand-washing during visits” and “covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing”.

Similarly, DW Fitness First has issued a statement to all of its members to reiterate its hygiene processes, which include “thoroughly and regularly disinfecting and cleaning down all club surfaces and equipment”.

“In addition, we are installing notices in-club about the importance of hand hygiene, adding anti-bacterial surface wipes in the club and ensuring all staff are kept fully up to date on this issue,” the notice continued.

How to be more hygienic in the gym

In order to protect yourself and others, here are a few measures you can take to minimise risk of germs spreading:

- First of all, wash your hands before and immediately after your workout- Make sure you wipe down your equipment when you’re done- Don’t touch your face, nose or mouth during your workout if you can help it, and try to immediately shower when you’re finished- Store your gym kit in a separate bag to the rest of your stuff, and wash it on a high heat as soon as you’re home

For people who are worried, older, immunosuppressed or have pre-existing health conditions, it might be a good idea to avoid the gym until the pandemic settles.

Alternatively, you could try exercising outdoors or workout in your living room to one of the many online apps and tutorials available.