Workouts in the gym and fitness club are not associated with an increased risk of coronavirus spreading – shows the latest study conducted by scientists from the University of Oslo. These conclusions are confirmed by Ernest Kuchar, Ph.D., who indicates that unlike other public places, it is much easier to maintain strict safety standards in sports facilities.
Gyms and fitness clubs approved by experts
The latest research by scientists from the University of Oslo, led by Professor Michael Bretthauer, showed that gyms and fitness clubs do not pose an increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission, even with intensive forms of training. The first academic study of its kind in Europe was conducted during a lockdown in Norway and involved 3,764 participants aged 18 to 64. Experts divided the participants into two groups consisting of the same number of people. The first group used the gym, while the second, control one, did not visit such facilities. After three weeks, all study participants were screened for coronavirus. Among people participating in workouts, only one test turned out to be positive – however, the study participant was infected outside the gym, in the workplace. Researchers also examined the personnel of fitness clubs, which worked in facilities during the experiment – out of 91 employees, 83 people consented to the tests. None of the employees were infected with coronavirus.
Increased safety standards
During the study, gyms and fitness clubs used sanitary safeguards like those currently in force in Poland. While training, the participants of the study kept a social distance of 1 meter or 2 meters in the case of high-intensity exercises. They also disinfected their hands as well as sports equipment after each use. The facilities also applied limits on the number of people. People who exercised had access to the cloakroom, while saunas and showers were excluded from use.
– Almost identical safety standards have been introduced in Poland. Maintaining a two-meter distance between exercising people, limits of people staying in the gym at the same time, or increased hygiene procedures. It is also worth emphasising that many of these solutions, such as the disinfection of sports equipment by the customer after each use, is a standard present in Polish gyms for years. However, safety of all facility users is also supported by club personnel, for example by increasing the frequency of cleaning service or disinfection and ventilation of training rooms – says Wojciech Szwarc, Management Board Member at Benefit Systems, which cooperates with more than 4,600 sports facilities in Poland.
Ernest Kuchar, Ph.D., a specialist in sports medicine and infectious diseases at the Medical University of Warsaw, emphasises that sports and recreational facilities that adhere to the guidelines are safer than many other public places.
– In gyms and fitness clubs we can take care of proper disinfection or maintaining social distance much more effectively than e.g. in shops or public transport. These two factors are the basic methods of preventing coronavirus infection. In addition, most sports facilities keep records of customer visits, so that in the event of a possible epidemic threat you can efficiently reach people who are at risk. It is worth remembering that practising sports in the current epidemiological situation brings much more health benefits than threats. Regular physical activity improves our condition, general health, and mood. It also promotes building immunity, which is also crucial in the context of coronavirus incidence – says Ernest Kuchar.
Poles are returning to physical activity
Prevention and the desire to support their health are the greatest motivation for Polish residents to undertake physical activity. The MultiSport Index Pandemic survey shows that during the freezing of the economy, when sports facilities were closed, as many as 43% of Poles limited their physical activity. As a result, most of them felt the effects of this change in the form of deterioration of wellbeing (74%), health (65%) or body shape (61%). As Wojciech Szwarc from Benefit Systems emphasises, Poles are already beginning to catch up on sports backlog. – From week to week we see that both individual customers as well as the MultiSport Programme users are bolder and more confident in returning to training in gyms and fitness club. The health and comfort of users and employees of sports facilities are the most important for us, which is why we constantly remind them of the need to maintain hygiene principles and social distance to effectively care for common safety.
The current guidelines on exercise safety can be found, among others, on the websites of sports and recreation facilities as well as at www.kartamultisport.pl/