Look for these COVID safety precautions when you return to the gym

woman on a treadmill with a mask

Photo: Ivan Zelenin (Shutterstock)

If you haven’t hit the gym much during the pandemic, getting vaccinated (or seeing vaccination rates spike in your area) may be enough to keep you coming back. But how safe is your gym, Oh good? Here are some signs to look for to ensure that your risk of being exposed to COVID-19 is minimal.

And yes, if you are vaccinated, you can assume that your risk of contracting COVID-19 is minimal. anyway, but people have different risk tolerances. No vaccine is perfect and there are cases of people who received the vaccine but ended up with a breakthrough infection. So we understand if you still want to be on the safe side.

Look for the right vventilation in your gym

The virus that causes COVID-19 can hang in the air in small droplets, and these droplets accumulate in the stuffy spaces. Ventilation is one of the most important ways to mitigate the risk of virus transmission in a large public space like a gym.

So, look for signs that air is moving in and out of the room. If the doors and windows are open to opposite sides of the room, that’s fine. If classes are held outdoors or there is an outdoor section of the gymnasium, even better.

You can also ask the gym management what improvements have been made to their ventilation system. If they use high quality filters, do a complete air exchange every 10 minutes or so, or know their carbon dioxide readings, these are signs that they are taking ventilation seriously.

Other good signs, viral transmission expert Linsey Marr told the New York Times, are high ceilings, portable air purifiers, and people spaced at least 10 feet apart. If you can smell other people, it is a signal that the air is not circulate well.

Masks are always useful when you are indoors, including at the gym

After the CDC announced that vaccinated people can safely do without masks in public places, many gyms that required masks dropped that requirement for vaccinated people. Some gyms just have a sign on the door and follow the honor system; others track members’ vaccination status and enforce the mask rule.

Ideally, unvaccinated people should always wear a mask when exercising, even during the exercise itself. Yes, masks make exercise uncomfortable, but when you breathe heavily you expel more and smaller droplets into the air than when you stand in the hall.

You can also wear a mask to protect yourself, even if you are vaccinated, for additional protection. While at the start of the pandemic we thought masks only protected others, there is good evidence that they also protect the wearer.

Cleaning protocols aren’t as important to COVID gym safety

COVID-19 is transmitted primarily through the air and through close contact with others (such as being face to face), and likely rarely, if at all, through contact with surfaces.

However, this does not mean that cleaning and disinfection are unnecessary. A gym should always clean surfaces regularly and provide wipes for members to clean equipment after using it. It’s not just for COVID, but also because other infections can spread via surfaces, like the skin infection known as MRSA.


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Susan W. Lloyd