The coronavirus pandemic has cast a shadow on the immense benefits that health and fitness facilities provide their communities and members. Even with regions that have reopened fitness clubs, the damaging press questioning the safety of facilities has led to gym-goers dropping their membership out of fear of catching the virus.
But recent data provides some early indication that there may be a low possibility of coronavirus exposure in fitness facilities implementing social distancing and other safety measures.
First Study of Its Kind Reveals No Additional Risk of Coronavirus at Gyms
Interesting new research out of the University of Oslo found no COVID-19 cases associated with fitness centers in a randomized trial of reopening fitness facilities.
The study included 3,764 fitness club members, ages 18-64, with no known risk factors for severe COVID-19. Participants were randomized to have access to one of five reopened fitness centers in Oslo, Norway, or to have no access to a fitness center (control group). Participants submitted a COVID-19 test after two weeks.
Throughout the study, 81.8% of people used the gym at least once, and 38.5% at least six times. In the end, researchers found no cases of COVID-19 related to the fitness center. There was one case in the training group, but it’s believed the exposure was likely at work, and no cases during the trial were related to that case.
While more research is needed (and this research must still undergo the peer review process), this study provides some cause of optimism that the social distancing and other COVID-19 mitigation policies implemented at fitness centers that have been allowed to open are effective in areas where community transmission is low. Thus, gyms may pose little to no additional risk for COVID-19 transmission compared to other public places.