While other countries around the world have seen their facilities start to slowly open up by following strict social distancing guidelines — from partitioned commercial gyms in Hong Kong to 'pod workouts' in group fitness classes in California – the UK is still having to wait.
With Boris Johnson's government green-lighting pubs, restaurants, barbers, salons and other non-essential facilities to reopen from July 4th, gym, studio and fitness centre owners have been left scratching their heads about a future reopening date.
Having been forcibly closed since mid-March 2020, UK gyms are believed to be at risk of becoming high-transmission areas and, with high foot traffic and little room to space out equipment or training areas, pose a complex problem when it comes to reopening safely while adhering to the 'one metre plus' rule.
A new study from Norway however, could prove beneficial when it comes to fighting for these facilities to reopen safely. The findings, thought to be the first of their kind, come from the University of Oslo and show that going to the gym doesn't increase your risk of contracting coronavirus (COVID-19).
The randomised, two-week study began on May 22nd, studying five different gyms in Oslo, with 3764 study participants aged 18 to 64-years-old with no underlying health conditions.
During the study, 80 per cent of the participants used the gyms once, with 38 per cent visiting over six times. Half of the study group were also told to keep away from the gym, for the purpose of comparison. Sticking to social distancing rules (one metre for 'floor exercise' and two metres for high-intensity classes), the study participants also used hand sanitiser regularly and had lockers available.
After the two weeks, the participants took an antibody test on June 8th.
The results of the study displayed an interesting result — of the 3764 participants, only one person caught coronavirus, but was part of the group that had not attended the gym. Conversely, over the study period, 207 people had contracted coronavirus in Oslo.
'This shows us that low-prevalence environments are safe for gyms and probably just about everything else. It is very unlikely you will get infected,' explained Dr. Gordon Guyatt, a professor of medicine at McMaster University to the New York Times.
'You can’t stay locked down forever. We are never going to be completely free of this thing. And in a low-prevalence environment, the risk is low wherever you go — gyms or grocery stores or even restaurants.'
The publication of the study follows the secretary of state for culture, media and sport, Oliver Dowden, tweeting that 'subject to public health', gyms and leisure facilities could reopen in mid-July.
The information in this story is accurate as of the publication date. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it’s possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and latest advice, visit the World Health Organisation. If you’re in the UK, the National Health Service can also provide useful information and support, while US users can contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention
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