Fitness – Growing evidence gyms and fitness clubs are safe

With the right protocols, exercise is safe.

There is growing evidence from around the world that gyms and fitness clubs are safe places to visit during the covid-19 pandemic, ExerciseNZ says.

A case of a healthcare worker with covid who recently went to Les Mills group fitness classes on consecutive days officially resulted in no new cases of covid.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) identified 86 close contacts from the gym visits. All of them went into self-isolation and have all returned negative covid tests, ExerciseNZ chief executive Richard Beddie says.

“Hundreds of gyms and exercise facilities in New Zealand are following the ExerciseNZ framework for keeping members safe at all times.

“ExerciseNZ developed the guidelines in conjunction with clinical protocol designer Kris Vette and had direct engagement with the World Health Organisation. The guidelines follows WorkSafe New Zealand principles and meets all the  Ministry of Health level guidelines.

“This latest news from the MoH shows our framework works, even when there is low level community virus.

“With the right protocols, exercise is safe. That’s why it’s so important to ensure people visit a facility that follows the additional protocols which we recommend.

“We are working with the MoH to ensure not only do we keep everyone safe, but also we have a faster tracing system should a person with covid take part in an exercise activity with others.

“Those people who called this latest case an outbreak or that gyms are high risk are wrong and I’d happily debate them on this as we can prove our framework is safe.”

In a study of more than 49.4 million visits to United States gyms over three months, 0.0023 percent of visitors tested positive for covid. That is more than 500 times less than the current estimated US national average and there is no evidence that any of the positive cases originated in gyms.

Gyms and leisure facilities in England had more than 22 million visits since between July 25 and September 13. According to UKactive’s latest data, there have been 78 people with confirmed covid cases among those 22 million visits. The reported cases did not show specific transmission in a gym environment, only where a user with a subsequent positive result had attended a facility.

Phillip Mills, founder and executive director of Les Mills International, says gyms and health clubs are a cornerstone of the global recovery from covid and should be given the necessary backing by governments.

Mills says a number of studies have highlighted the importance of exercise in the fight against the pandemic.

He says as well as providing a direct health benefit in the covid fight, investing in exercise would, in the long-term, have a huge effect on the future of the economy.

“As the world adjusts in the wake of this major health pandemic, with lessons learned and safer processes in place, it’s time for governments to recognise the vital role of exercise in society and take meaningful action to support them. Our recovery depends on it.”

ENDS