As it begins to get warmer outside and gyms are starting to re-open their doors, people are eager to take their at-home workouts elsewhere. But is six feet apart really a safe distance to protect against the spread of the coronavirus while working out?
A Belgium-Dutch research team studied respiratory droplets of bikers and runners and found that exercising at six feet apart may not be far enough to stop the spread of the virus. Droplets can travel as far as 18 feet after a person sneezes, coughs, or even speaks. A slight breeze at 2.5 mph can carry droplets 18 feet in less than 5 seconds. The findings of the study suggest bikers should stay 18 feet apart, runner's 33 feet apart and walker's 16 feet apart.
So what does this mean for those who want to exercise inside an enclosed gym?
Here are the steps gyms are taking to protect their patrons; Most gyms are separating their cardio equipment or placing protective barriers in between them while ensuring proper ventilation and opening windows and doors. Some gyms are even going as far as taking temperature readings before allowing entry and hiring more staff to clean and disinfect equipment.
As a professional in the health and fitness industry for over a decade, I believe you shouldn't just rely on the gym to protect you from getting sick. Here are my suggestions on how you can protect yourself while working out;
1. If you can, do your cardio outdoors and leave only your strength training for the gym. Choose an open area outside for your cardio.
2. Go to the gym during non-peak hours when it's less crowded, preferably when the gym first opens. Gyms typically require staff to clean their facilities prior to opening.
3. Many gyms dilute their cleaning products to save on cost so bring your own disinfectant wipes to clean the equipment. Wear workout gloves while using equipment, and bring towels to shield your skin from touching the seats and mats.
4. Avoid using bathrooms, and taking showers at the gym if possible. If you have to use the gym's bathroom wear a mask.
5. Like most health officials have been advising, sanitize your hands. Do this both when entering and leaving the gym, and try not to touch your face.
6. Only wear a mask when you are doing low-intensity workouts, it's important for you to be able to breathe and get adequate oxygen when doing HIIT and cardio type of workouts.