At the beginning of the coronavirus infection, sports facilities were linked to around one hundred and thirteen of the new cases in South Korea and named one of the biggest contributors to coronavirus spread not only in the country but also elsewhere around the world.
When it comes to places like gyms and sports facilities, the requirements for the prevention of the COVID-19 are often stricter and demand more care from people especially now that the lockdown restrictions have been eased in many of the countries.
To understand why gyms are hotspots for the spread of the coronavirus infection, the transmission and nature of the SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19 should be understood.
In accordance with findings from previous studies, the virus is likely spread at a faster rate indoors rather than outdoors. Since the virus is airborne, small, contained places having no open-air facilities with a large number of people can help in transmitting the virus from one infected person to another significantly.
For gyms, the risk of coronavirus spread is even higher due to many reasons including the vigorous physical activity done by all people visiting the place at different hours of the day which is likely to cause more coughing, sneezing, and sweating as well as the presence of hard, steel surfaces, on which the coronavirus can survive for a time period of three days or seventy-two hours.
In addition, the practice of social distancing is also particularly hard in the gym. Therefore, droplets from coughing or spluttering can easily travel and infected another person after being released into the air.
Thirdly, due to excessive sweating in the gym, people are bound to touch their faces with cleaning towels or even their hands which further makes the entry of the virus into the body easy.
Overall, the difficulty in social distancing, presence of smooth surfaces which can aid coronavirus survival, lack of space, sweating, and coughing can make gyms a hotspot for coronavirus spread. To add to the risk, shared facilities including showers and drinking fountains can also help in coronavirus transmission.
Some studies have even shown that the use of hairdryers and air conditioners, both of which are usually used by people in sports facilities or gyms, can help in the spread of droplets containing coronavirus and are, therefore, also risky.
So, a common question raised by people, especially those living in states or countries that have eased their lockdown restrictions is whether going to the gym is safe or not.
Most of the countries that have eased their lockdown restrictions have given specific guidelines to gyms in order to prevent and control coronavirus infection spread. Additionally, many gyms have also taken stricter cleaning and sanitizing steps as well as imposed limitations on how many people can be present in the gym at a single time.
For instance, the gyms in South Australia have only allowed eighty people to visit on a daily basis and limited the number of people in the class to ten so that social distancing can be practiced safely and the spread can be minimized.
In addition to these precautions, people themselves can also take specific measures such as washing hands frequently, carrying sanitizer, try to shower at home, bringing personal water bottles and not using water fountains, avoid touching the face, and staying at a distance from other people in the gym.
Taking such measures can lower the risk of coronavirus spread significantly and help in maintaining the progress over the coronavirus pandemic as well as avoid a second wave of the infection.