Living in the midst of a global pandemic wasn’t exactly what we had in mind for 2020, but here we all are…
The Coronavirus has created so many conversations and generated so much advice around self-isolating, remote-working, hand-washing and staying well that it got us asking is it safe to use the gym during the outbreak?
Or should we just go to the Winchester have a nice cold pint and wait for this to all blow over?
Public Health England hasn’t given any specific advice about Covid-19 and exercising in public spaces, so it’s highly likely that you’ll still find many of your gym buddies getting their workouts in despite a jump in UK and European cases of the virus.
For some people, the virus is the perfect excuse to hang up the gym kit for a while but many of us don’t want to sacrifice our fitness at a time when it’s most needed.
Exercise is an immune booster and having a healthy and robust immune system is what could keep many of us healthy in the coming months. Exercise is also good for mental health including mild depression (and who doesn’t need a little less anxiety right now?).
There’s no reason why you should curb your gym habit during the Coronavirus outbreak BUT you should be more conscientious with your hygiene habits.
It is SUPREMELY IMPORTANT to stay at home if you feeling ill or if you’ve had contact with someone who’s contracted (or is suspected of having contracted) Covid-19.
This is because you’re working out alongside people who could have underlying health conditions, a compromised immune system or they could be in contact with the elderly or the vulnerable.
They could also be healthcare professionals who’ll be needed on the frontline to fight this outbreak.
Get your workout in by all means but don’t be a dick by risking other people’s lives.
How to Protect Yourself Against Coronavirus in the Gym
- Wash your hands immediately before and after your workout.
Make sure you’re doing it properly. Current guidance is to hand wash for at least 20-seconds and to make sure you’re washing your fingertips, the backs of your hands as well as your palms.
Use paper to turn off the tap to prevent cross-contamination.
There’s a handy video on the BBC website if you need a refresher on technique. If you’re unable to get to a sink and soap straight away, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content as a temporary measure.
- If you have long hair, tie it back so that you won’t keep touching your face.
- Be aware of the surfaces you’re touching: the keypad to get in, the desk at reception, a locker door, the bench you sit on in the changing rooms. At the moment, scientists aren’t sure exactly how long the Coronavirus lasts on surfaces but it’s likely to be hours or potentially days.
Wipe down any equipment before and after using it with disinfectant wipe.
Do the same with yoga mats, too.
Keep your hands and fingers away from your mouth and eyes because this is how the virus gets into your body. Easier said than done, sure, but definitely worth persevering with.
If you need to touch your face, wash your hands first.
Take your own towel and water bottle.
Sneeze or cough into a tissue and then dispose of the tissue immediately afterwards.
If you don’t have a tissue, do it into the crook of your elbow and then wash your hands.
If you see people who aren’t doing this, move away from them and inform a member of staff (if you’re not willing to speak to the person directly).
Don’t hi-five other people, offer fist bumps or handshakes.
For yogis though, keep rocking the namaste.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your gym what they’re doing to prevent the spread of the illness in their premises.
Keep an eye on them, too, to see if they’re on top of cleaning and practicing good hygiene themselves.
If you don’t like what you see, tell them your concerns or leave.
Avoiding getting too close to people in the gym. Keep a good distance between yourself and others whenever possible.
Avoid large classes or switch-up your routine and visit when there’s fewer people around.
In the US, the Centre for Disease Control found that you were more likely to contract Coronavirus standing within six-feet of someone than catching it from a contaminated surface.
- Insist that instructors refrain from using hand-to-skin corrections to correct posture and form. For now, it’s far safer to take verbal corrections.
- Don’t share water bottles or towels with anyone else
- Take a shower after your workout
- Store your gym kit separately and then wash it once you get home.
- There’s mixed advice on whether people should avoid the sauna or not.
We’d err on the side of caution and say it’s probably best to skip it.
Good hand washing, hygiene and cleaning is enough to stop the virus spreading, so it’s everyone’s responsibility to be careful and considerate with our habits.
It also means staying home when you feel unwell or if you’ve had contact with someone who’s been infected.
If you’re self-isolating but unsure if you have the virus, then there are plenty of workouts on YouTube to keep you busy for the week.
There’s a tonne of apps available, too, both on Apple and Google stores.
Keep exercising, keep hand washing and stay mindful of your own health and others so that we can all go back to our push-ups and protein shakes and stop panic buying toilet rolls and fusilli.
For the latest advice on Coronavirus:
Public Health England