Going back to the gym

The coronavirus pandemic has meant that most of us are spending more time working, learning, and exercising at home. While it is possible to get a good workout at home, going to the gym provides equipment, classes, and social support you probably don’t have at home. Now that many businesses, including fitness centers, are reopening, you may be keen to move your workouts back to the gym.

Despite the reopening of businesses, the spread of coronavirus and COVID-19 is still a very real and urgent health concern. Hopefully, your gym is taking extra precautions with social distancing, hygiene, and cleaning to make it safer for staff and members. Here are some additional suggestions to reduce your risk of exposing yourself to coronavirus (and other viruses and bacteria, too) when return to the gym.

Photo by William Choquette from Pexels
  1. If you are sick, please stay home! For the safety of others, you should be symptom-free when you go to the gym. In fact, they may screen you at the door to make sure. You can still do light activity with mild symptoms at home, but it’s best to take the day off if you have a cough or fever.
  2. Wash your hands with soap and water before and after your workout. If that’s not an option, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) is okay, too.
  3. Use the provided disinfectant spray to wipe down equipment, including weights, before and after you use it. Many people are good about wiping sweat from benches, seats, and other equipment but skip cleaning barbells, dumbbells, and other hand-held gear. Make sure you spray and wipe thoroughly.
  4. As much as you can, keep your distance from other people. This includes social distancing in the gym from people you are close to outside the gym. Your gym may already have blocked access to some equipment to maintain social distancing, but you should make an effort, too. If your favorite exercise equipment or group exercise class is not available, ask the staff for suggestions of other things to try.  

If your gym isn’t reopening yet or if you decide not to go, you can still get a good workout at home. If you need ideas, try one of the many mobile apps that will guide you through a variety workouts, some using nothing more than your body weight. And being active outdoors is always good for your physical and mental health. Even if you go with a friend, the risk of virus spread is lower outdoors, especially if you keep appropriate distance between you. 

Finally, make sure you follow the rules at your gym. The safe return to normal activities requires that everyone participates faithfully. Fitness facilities have specific regulations they must adhere to in order to reopen, so be careful not to jeopardize that. 

Remember, your goal is to keep yourself and the people close to you as healthy as possible. Regular exercise is essential for doing that, but only if you can do it safely. And don’t forget that good nutrition, getting enough sleep, and finding a way to manage your stress are also critical for physical and mental health.

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