Going to the gym is supposed to be one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves. But is that still the case during a viral pandemic?
With more than 1,300 coronavirus cases in the United States (as of Thursday morning) and over 127,000 people infected worldwide, it’s fair to wonder. But depending on where your gym is, pumping iron in public may be safer than other community spaces.
First things first — sweat doesn’t spread coronavirus.
Dr. David Thomas, a professor of medicine and director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told The New York Times that going to the gym is less risky for coronavirus than attending a church service because such a gathering typically includes shaking hands and being in close proximity to others.
But that doesn’t mean going to the gym is 100% safe, especially communities that have been affected by coronavirus.
“That’s, perhaps, a time to be more cautious with all types of exposures, including a gym,” Dr. Thomas told The New York Times.
Aubree Gordon, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, echoed this sentiment to CNBC. A COVID-19 outbreak in your area could create a risk of contracting it at the gym, so it might be a good idea not to go, Gordon said.
“At this point, people should certainly keep exercising,” Gordon clarified.
So how do you stay safe at the gym?
Gordon says wearing weight-lifting gloves would make going to the gym safer, and exercising outside would be an even safer bet. Michael Knight, an assistant professor of medicine at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Services, tells CNBC that going to the gym during non-peak hours and limiting physical touch like handshakes and high-fives are also smart precautions.
The bottom line? If you’re being safe and smart, going to the gym isn’t an absolute non-starter during the coronavirus outbreak. But if you’re looking for an excuse to skip leg day, it isn’t the worst idea in the world to stay home.
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