Working out is often a great way to de-stress at the end of the day and a good way to keep your immune system in tip-top shape.
But fears of contracting the new coronavirus disease, COVID-19, have many people on edge and avoiding places where they could contract the disease or spread the virus to other people.
On that point, the gym is a place where people can easily pick up other peoples germs.
Thats of particular concern because the new coronavirus causes respiratory illness that can spread by touching surfaces a person with the virus has touched or even via airborne droplets when a person sneezes or coughs.
Stay informed with our live updates about the current COVID-19 outbreak. Also, visit our coronavirus hub for more information on how to prepare, advice on prevention and treatment, and expert recommendations.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, warned people Mar. 10 to take basic precautions about limiting their exposure to the virus.
Take everyday precautions like avoiding close contact with people who are sick, cleaning your hands often, and to the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places, Messonnier said. Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says some coronaviruses can linger on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days, which is part of the reason they recommend washing your hands often with soap and water or using hand sanitizer.
Gyms are often crowded places where many of the surfaces from free weights to the controls on a treadmill are touched a lot.
Simply wiping sweat off with a towel isnt enough to stop the coronavirus and other bugs from spreading.
While a handful of Twitter users report the novel coronavirus hasnt changed their gym habits, many fitness centers have reached out to their members to tell them the extra preventive steps theyre taking.
That includes closing down.
A case in point is the San Mateo Athletic Club at the College of San Mateo in California.
Earlier this week, the fitness center told its members that its following guidelines set by the health department in San Mateo County.
We have continued to educate the staff members on good hygiene habits: use of gloves and proper disposal, proper cleaning procedures, and use of Clorox wipes at each workstation, the email read. These are habits we have practiced for 10 years.
On Thursday, the San Mateo gym announced its temporarily closing.
Nationwide, chains have also been reassuring its members that its spaces are clean and safe.
Planet Fitness says it has extensive cleanliness policies and procedures in place.
Team members conduct regular and thorough cleaning of all equipment, surfaces, and areas of the club and gym floor using disinfectant cleaning supplies, McCall Gosselin, Planet Fitness spokeswoman, told Healthline. In addition, they regularly complete overnight cleaning of the facility.
Anytime Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness, two other major national gym chains, didnt have any coronavirus warnings on their websites, nor did they respond to requests for comment.
Simon Hansen, an experienced athlete, coach, and sports blogger of Best Sports Lounge, said hes visited the gym less frequently since the COVID-19 outbreak, although he knows people with strong immune systems are less likely to be affected.
I think that its a necessary precaution to take especially since we might unknowingly harm the immunocompromised, Hansen told Healthline. However, this doesnt mean that Ive removed exercise from my daily routine.
Instead, he works out at home.
If youre staying at home, you still probably want to continue your workout routine.
Besides the health benefits, its also good to stay active to ward off going stir crazy from being cooped up for an extended period of time.
Dr. David Nazarian, whos board certified in internal medicine and practices in Beverly Hills, said that because the new coronavirus is rapidly spreading, its important to take standard precautions to protect yourself.
Exercise is important for overall healthy well-being, but it is vital to protect yourself from airborne disease, especially new ones such as the coronavirus where effective treatment is still being studied, he told Healthline.
If avoiding places that are high risk for transmission of airborne diseases is necessary, there can be alternative options such as working out at home, he added.
Alexandra Ellis, creator of AE Wellness and host of The Body Nerd Show, said if youre avoiding the gym for fear of getting sick, theres a lot you can do at home that requires no equipment.
Focus on the basics such as planks, pushups, squats, leg lifts, or bicycles and burpees for an easy workout that will build strength and get your heart rate up. My favorite way to build a workout is to do 4 rounds of 5 exercises for 45 seconds of work, followed by 15 seconds of rest, Ellis told Healthline.
Choose exercises that target different areas of your body and youll have a full-body workout in less than 20 minutes, she said.
For people looking for more guidance during their home exercise, there are plenty of tutorials available online, whether on YouTube or other portals.
Some people are even responding to COVID-19 and subsequent distancing and quarantine measures.
One such example is the online yoga platform EkhartYoga, which is offering free gentle yoga and meditation classes online to people during the outbreak to help counteract the escalation of stress and anxiety that comes with it.
We can only begin to imagine the stress of being in isolation, Esther Ekhart, the platform owner and a yoga teacher, said in a statement to Healthline. While, thankfully, the majority of us arent in physical danger, we cant fail to escape the news, which in itself can cause worry and anxiety.
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