For many people, the start of January means creating resolutions for the New Year. Often those goals are focused on losing weight, getting fit or adding more exercise to daily routines. Often these include adding a workout routine.
“It’s certainly possible to achieve your fitness goals even during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s important to take into consideration safety precautions to prevent COVID-19,” says Lisa Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H., senior director of infection prevention for the Johns Hopkins Health System and associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Johns Hopkins Medicine experts say exercising outdoors or at your home is safest. “Gyms and fitness centers have been shown to be places where COVID-19 can spread, so it’s best to go only in cases in which exercise is not possible in less-risky locations,” Maragakis says.
Exercise is known to have a profound impact on the normal functioning of the immune system. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has raised a lot of questions regarding how exercise can protect us from infection by boosting immunity. This is becoming more pertinent as many of us have restricted access to the gyms and parks where we would normally undertake exercise and physical activity regimens.
If you decide to go to the gym or a fitness center for your workout routine, Maragakis suggests selecting a location that requires staff and attendees to wear a mask that covers their mouth and nose at all times. She also advises to stay at least 6 feet away from others and wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, particularly before and after touching equipment and when you have finished your workout. Going to the gym during off-peak hours is also a better option to avoid crowds. Maragakis adds that high-intensity exercises, such as running, should only be done outside or on workout equipment at home since they require more rapid or intense breathing, which could transmit viruses more easily.
Maragakis says anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or who has recently been tested for COVID-19 should self-quarantine and avoid going to any public areas.