These recommendations really come into play for places where we’re likely to be in regular contact with people or working with others. Some recommendations here include keeping a reasonable distance from others, avoiding handshaking, keeping rooms well ventilated, having work meetings via teleconference, being on the ball when it comes to hand hygiene and avoiding others/public spaces if we’re at all sick. For full guidelines and further advice, check out the health.gov.au website and search up social distancing.
Does this apply to gyms?
At present, the social distancing guidelines don’t include gyms, but we’ll need to keep an eye on recommendations here. Whilst some private gyms and group fitness classes might have decided it’s best to close right now, many gyms remain open and we’re not as of yet being told that’s going to change.
Gyms are known to be high when it comes to various body fluid and germ levels, but many gym chains are taking great proactive steps to ramp up cleaning measures, advise members who are unwell to stay away and to ramp up hand hygiene. There’s every reason to keep up your workout schedule right now if it’s an important part to your wellbeing, but for ourselves and everyone else we need to make a few changes to that cardio session to ensure we’re keeping the community safe.
Hitting the gym has some big positives when it comes to our mental and physical health, and that’s really important during times like this when anxiety levels are riding high. For a lot of us, a regular workout is an important part to our everyday wellbeing, so it’s vital we clear up questions around whether it’s safe to be working out. Things are changing rapidly, but with the current information we have the answer here is yes, you can still be hitting the gym. What’s really important right now though, is that we do it safely. We need to be doing all we can right now to slow transmission of the virus, and that includes while we’re benching or spin-classing.
6 tips for working out during the COVID-19 pandemic
1. Don’t hit the gym if you’re sick
This is probably the most important point right now, and one we need to be taking seriously. So I’ll repeat it – we definitely should NOT be putting squat gains over transmission risk right now. If you’re feeling at all unwell, and particularly if you have clear cough/cold symptoms, then it’s vital to reducing transmission risk that we stay home. It goes without saying that we should never be ditching isolation in favour of a workout.
2. Watch what you touch
Another really important thing to remember while you’re working out right now is to watch what we’re touching during and even after our workout. Ensure that drink bottles have the top capped at all times, and that fingers/towels don’t touch bottle tops when you go to take a sip. If you’re using your phone at the gym, it’s important to remember afterwards that this could be a source of transmission – wipe your phone down with an alcohol wipe, or at least remember to wash your hands after you pick it up later at home.
3. Use a towel and wipe equipment down
There’s no current evidence that COVID-19 is spread through sweat, but it’s commonplace for various things to be on us, and on gym equipment when we’re working out. Use a towel when you work out, and wipe down gear with wipes or sprays provided. That should especially include treadmill handrails and cardio equipment. Hygiene is a big part of reducing transmission, and so this is about more than just gym etiquette right now.
4. Wash those hands
It’s a message we’ve had drilled into us these past few weeks, but it’s a biggie at the gym now too. Wash your hands regularly with alcohol gel or soap/water – this is especially if we’re going to mix a shake after, touch our face in any way or eat/prep food. Just like anywhere else, if you happen to cough or sneeze – do it into your elbow or a tissue rather than into your hands or onto anything else. Wash your hands straight after.
5. Change up where you workout
While the government’s social distancing guidelines don’t make specific mention of gyms or workout groups, its important to employ some of these same measures here where possible. If at all possible, keep a bit of distance between yourself and others (without going overboard, or staring others down). Keeping spaces as ventilated as possible is a good tip too – so open gym windows and keep air flowing.
6. Keep it positive
There’s understandably a lot of tension and anxiety floating around right now - while we should definitely be alert and concerned, we shouldn’t be panicking. Some regular exercise is a proven way to diffuse anxiety, boost mood and keep part of our regular routine intact. While there’s no reason right now we can’t be hitting the gym as long as we’re doing it safely, outdoor or home exercise might be something some would prefer to go with right now. If you’re in isolation, keeping tension and anxiety levels down with a regular home workout, bodyweight program or spot of yoga can really make a difference.