In response to the second surge of COVID-19 cases, multiple states and jurisdictions have moved to reclose businesses to mitigate further spread. Despite existing data attesting to the lower risk profile of health clubs, fitness establishments have been among the businesses mandated to close or operate in a more-reduced capacity.
IHRSA recently commissioned the University of Oregon’s Consulting Group (OCG) to study the association between health club attendance and COVID-19 cases using Colorado data as a proxy. Colorado’s Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) provides a comprehensive online database of COVID-19 cases and transmission settings.
“Opposing views from the media and uncertainty in the scientific community create ambiguity for gym-goers, club operators, and legislators about the safety of gyms during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Megan Evans, senior manager of OCG. “What can we learn from the data?”
In short, the findings are clear: health clubs do not pose the same risk as other venues like bars and restaurants.
To determine this outcome, University of Oregon researchers examined the relationship between gym attendance and Colorado COVID-19 case data using observational and statistical analytical methods.
“If we look at Colorado’s record of self-reported outbreak—events in which two or more people have contracted COVID—gyms haven’t made the list up to this point, but bars and restaurants certainly have,” said Callum Kuo, OCG president. “What if we investigate further and compare what we know about gyms in Colorado?”
By examining the correlation between weekly gym attendance data with the following week of positive COVID-19 rates, researchers found a non-statistically significant correlation between COVID-19 case rates and gym attendance.