Over the past few months, Americans have started to get back to normal, pre-COVID life. And that has included returning to gyms. But as the delta variant has proven to be more contagious than earlier strains, some might be worried if it’s still safe. Each gym differs, of course, but the higher the ceiling, the more spread out the equipment is, the better. Good air circulation helps too, and you can ask your gym’s manager about their air filtration systems (and how often they replace the filters).
Here are a few other tips to keep yourself safe while we’re still dealing with the COVID pandemic. Incidentally, these tips also work for non-pandemic times; they’ll help you to avoid getting the flu during flu season as well.
- The best way to prevent contracting COVID is, as always, to wear a mask. Yes, wearing a mask during a workout is not ideal. Particularly while you’re doing cardio. Which brings us to our next point…
- Even though the gym is a social place for some, it’s probably best to keep your distance, especially when doing cardio. if you’re on a treadmill or bike, you should try to keep some distance between you and the next treadmill/bike.
- As the Cleveland Clinic points out — and most of us know this by now — you should wash your hands often. Most gyms also offer disinfectant and paper towels, these days. You should wipe down the equipment after you use it (and before you start using it – you don’t know if the person before you wiped it down).
- Bring your own gear. It’s probably better to fill a water bottle (or buy a new bottle if your gym sells drinks) than to use the water fountain. Although the Minnsota Department of Health notes that the risk of getting COVID-19 from touching a solid surface (like a water fountain button) is low, “high-touch surfaces, especially in shared or public spaces” need to be cleaned frequently. But if you use a reusable water bottle, be sure to wash it frequently. You should probably also bring your own mat, if you use one in the gym.
- Try to skip the locker room if you can. As a report shared by the University of Alabama at Birmingham advises “Wait to shower and change until you get home, as people in [locker rooms] will likely not be wearing masks and will be in close contact with one another.”
- Maybe most importantly, if you’re feeling sick – stay home. This is a good rule of thumb for any time of year (and particularly flu season). It’s inconsiderate to spread your germs to fellow gym-goers if you’re ill and it’s probably not great for your immune system either. Sometimes you need rest more than you need the workout.