Public health expert discusses safety of gyms amid COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 7:34 AM, Sep 03, 2020

Gyms are doing whatever they can to get you back, but many are wondering if it’s safe. A public health expert says it depends on what precautions your gym is taking.

“The fact is that the gyms don't spread disease,” said Dr. Jay Wolfson, a public health professor at the University of South Florida. “The people within them who are coming into the gym and not cleaning up after themselves and are not maintaining social distances, and the gym staff, if they're not being attentive and conscientious in terms of disinfecting, are the ones who are aiding a abetting the spread of the disease.”

There's evidence showing coronavirus can be spread through aerosol and droplets. Those droplets can float in the air long enough to be inhaled. And they could travel more aggressively when we’re working out.

“Just as when you yell and scream, and you'll be sweating, and you'll be hyperventilating sometimes, so those droplet nuclei are going to come out, which means the larger particles are going to rest on some of the equipment as well as in the air,” said Wolfson.

Wolfson says it may be hard to monitor gyms across the country because the rules in certain cities and states are different. And it's hard to know if a case is tied to a gym.

A Norwegian university looked at whether workout facilities played a role in the spread. It didn't find any cases in people who went to the gym and took proper precautions.

Researchers said going to the gym is relatively safe in areas where there aren't many infections.