My gym is reopening. Reed isn't sure it’s safe to work out there.


Consider alternatives for working out

NPR - If you want to exercise indoors, it’s safer to do it at home, says IDM’s Doug Reed, an immunologist and aerobiologist at the University of Pittsburgh. 

"That's what I'm doing now," he says. "When the weather's nice, I'm jogging outside, but when it's not, I'm doing some weights and stretches and exercise indoors."

Stay far apart. Really

This bears repeating — stay at least six feet away from other people while you are exercising. And, if people are breathing heavily, "it would be preferable to double that to 12 feet," says Dr. Lou Ann Bruno-Murtha, division chief of infectious diseases at Cambridge Health Alliance in Cambridge, Mass.

That's because we don't know exactly how far virus particles travel when people are breathing heavily," says Reed, "When you are exercising and exerting yourself, you're going to be breathing out and breathing in more than you normally would, he says.

"And so the potential for being infected or spreading the infection would be that much higher," says Reed.

Pay attention to airflow

Steer clear of small gyms and those with little ventilation, says Desai of the Cleveland Clinic. "Your best bet is going to be a gym that is larger, able to have windows open or have multiple floors or levels to allow for physical distancing," she says. That's because more space and more airflow dilute the concentration of the virus in the air and likely reduce the risk of transmission.

"If you're strenuously exercising then you're tending to draw in and exhale more air," says aerobiologist Reed. This is especially important because there's increasing evidence to suggest "that people who are not symptomatic are, in fact, transmitting the infection," says Reed.

In fact levels of the virus found in the nose or throat of asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic individuals "can be considerable and are equivalent" to the amount of virus found in individuals with symptoms of coronavirus, he says.

So people who feel well enough to exercise may not realize they are infected, and may be on the weight machine next to you. 

Our experts say it's best wear a mask as much as possible in the gym, including at the front desk, in the locker room and the bathroom — and even while doing light exercise. But of course, when you're working out hard and breathing heavily it can be difficult to keep a mask on.

"Physical exercise doesn't lend itself well to the idea of wearing a mask," says Reed, because it can make it harder to breathe. 

And while many gyms recommend masks, most don't require them.

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