Is It Safe To Go To The Gym? An Infectious Disease Expert Weighs In.

Gyms in Texas are allowed to reopen on Monday to a limited number of patrons, and their owners have been asked to follow certain guidelines for sanitizing equipment and social distancing.

By Michael MarksMay 18, 2020 11:37 am, ,

Monday is the first day since the coronavirus lockdown that gyms in Texas will be allowed to open up. But there are limitations.

According to Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders, gyms can open up to 25% capacity. Gymgoers are asked to stay six feet apart and wear face masks. Gym owners are also asked to sanitize all of their workout equipment and surfaces.

Dr. Rama Thyagarajan is assistant professor of internal medicine at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin. She’s also an infectious disease specialist. She told Texas standard host David Brown on Monday that those who are considering going to the gym need to think about whether doing so could risk their health. One consideration is whether they have preexisting health conditions that could make them more vulnerable to the virus.

Air droplets from coughing, a sneeze or even talking to someone within six feet pose the biggest risk for spreading the coronavirus. Droplets can also stay on gym equipment for a time, and and then be picked up by the next user.

“So it’s more about secretions rather than sweat,” Thyagarajan said.

Gyms and patrons will need to wipe down and sanitize equipment to get rid of these respiratory droplets.

Key things to look out for in a recently reopened gym would be whether it has signs reminding people to practice good hygiene; whether it is set up so that people can easily work out more than six feet apart; whether staff are regularly sanitizing equipment; and whether the gym has staff enforcing these practices.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends gymgoers wear masks. Thyagarajan said though that may be uncomfortable, people should wear them if at all possible to protect their health and the health of others.

Web story by Caroline Covington.


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