Some gyms are opening...what does that mean for you?
As states start slowly reopening, the reopening of gyms is becoming more and more likely. Gym rats, rejoice! Or ... maybe not yet? Or ... rejoice cautiously?
I've been finding it increasingly hard to know what the "right thing" to do is. And mostly that means, what's the right thing to do for my family and for myself. Everyone has a different threshold. A lot of us determine our threshold by our overall health. The "right thing" for me is to use extreme caution. With pre-existing medical conditions galore, I can't be caught running too close to people on the trails or chilling at the mall any time soon. But my increased susceptibility also means that the people I come into contact with have increased susceptibility, right? I mean, if I catch COVID-19 more easily than my neighbor and then bring my sick self over to my neighbor's house, they're now vulnerable. So "the right thing" for my family and for me turns into considering my neighbor.
So how does this translate to the gym? This is all a roundabout way of saying, yes, the gym may reopen soon, but that means we gymgoers are faced with another decision: Should we go to the gym even if it's open?
The pros of going to the gym are obvious and are the same pros as they were before the coronavirus pandemic. Exercise is good for your mood and your physical health. A new pro is that going to the gym will be a slight return to normalcy which would definitely be good for everyone's mental health. If you're feeling strong mentally, physically, and emotionally, it's scientifically proven that you're less susceptible to getting sick. Does this make you immune to everything? No. Does this make you immune to the coronavirus? Definitely not. No one is immune to the coronavirus yet. Would it help you fight off the virus if you were to get it? Possibly.
I think the biggest con right now is that going to the gym is going to increase your chances of exposure. The coronavirus is passed by expelled respiratory droplets. People are sweating and breathing hard at the gym. Maybe the air gets dry and the guy on the bench press coughs a little on the bar? Purely hypothetical, but I've seen it happen. You should also keep in mind that when you're breathing hard, you're expelling your respiratory droplets further than you would if you were breathing normally and immobile. This means it's more critical than ever to keep your distance when you're exercising. And that can be hard to do in the gym.
Each newly reopened gym will take different precautions to limit spread. These may look like limiting the number of people working out in the gym at one time, establishing social distancing rules, requiring everyone to wear a mask, and even temperature checks. Here's what you can do as an individual: wash/sanitize your hands, be extra diligent about sanitizing the equipment you use (perhaps start wiping things down before and after use?), don't touch your face, and wear a mask.
Some people may object to wearing a mask while working out. Masks can feel hot and stuffy. But the point is that it makes us safer. Maybe limit your cardio at the gym and focus on weight lifting instead. You can still get your cardio outdoors. Work out at non-peak times. If there's little to no one else in the gym, maybe you won't have to put a mask on while you're on the treadmill.
However you choose to keep yourself safe is up to you. But remember that your fellow gym-goers' safety is also partially in your hands, too. Be respectful of other people's thresholds. They may be different than yours.
Do you plan on returning to the gym ASAP? If so, how do you plan on keeping yourself and others safe? Share your thoughts in the comments!
The Run-Around is a weekly feature, focusing on fitness in and around Annapolis, MD.