Gyms in Texas are opening soon, but is it safe to return to your normal exercise routine? There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, but there is no way to completely eliminate the risk when in close quarters with other people. Here’s what you need to know about going to the gym in the time of COVID-19.
Texas' Guidelines for Opening Gyms
The state of Texas has set up some requirements gyms must follow as they start to gradually reopen. Fitness centers are not allowed to exceed 25% of standard capacity. Additionally, showers and locker rooms should remain closed, and fitness equipment must be roped off to ensure gym-goers maintain at least six feet of distance from one another.
Additionally, employees must sanitize equipment with EPA-approved disinfectant after each use and customers must wear gloves that cover their fingers and hands. Finally, if someone brings in their own equipment, they must sanitize it before and after use.
Should You Wear a Mask While Exercising?
By now, you’ve probably heard that wearing a mask can prevent the spread of infected respiratory droplets from person to person. However, exercising in a mask poses a number of problems.
Masks can make it more difficult to breathe, which can be dangerous while working out. Additionally, they can quickly become soaked due to sweat and more moisture leaving the mouth during heavy breathing, and a moist mask is not nearly as effective as a dry mask. If you do choose to exercise at a fitness center, you may want to remove your mask and maintain more distance between yourself and other patrons.
Steps to Prevent Infection at the Gym
If you do choose to go to the gym, here are some tips you can take to reduce your risk of catching and spreading COVID-19:
- Wash your hands often, especially right before your workout and right after you finish exercising. If sinks are unavailable, rub hand sanitizer in for at least 20 seconds.
- Don’t touch your face. Resist the urge to use your hand to wipe sweat off your brow or skin.
- Avoid the water fountain and other communal surfaces. Bring a water bottle and your own gym towels instead.
- Make sure the gym uses disinfectants that are EPA-approved. You can find a comprehensive list here.
- Use disinfectants according to manufacturer directions. Read the packaging to see how long sprays should sit on surfaces before you wipe them off (this timeframe can range from 1 to 10 minutes).
- Clean equipment before and after use. You can’t guarantee the person who used it last sanitized it thoroughly.
- Choose open areas in which to exercise. If your gym offers outdoor classes, opt for those while still maintaining six feet of distance from other patrons.
- If you feel sick in any way, stay home.