What are the problems going to the gym

Exercising in times of Corona: To the gym, yes or no?

Exercise is healthy, even in times of Corona. As the temperatures drop, many people will find that sport will move from the outdoors indoors - perhaps to their own living room, where they were already playing online videos during the lockdown. Many will go to the gym more often in fog and sleet rain.

In closed rooms, however, you get closer to other people than you might like in times of a pandemic. This can be particularly risky when training because - according to the current state of knowledge - the transmission by aerosols, i.e. droplets in the air, plays a decisive role in Covid-19. If you puff while exercising, the respiratory volume increases - and in the worst case also the viral load in the air, until it reaches a concentration that can lead to the infection of people in the vicinity.

Breathe deeper

And because you breathe deeper during exercise, the viruses can also penetrate deeper into the lungs. The German sports physician Wilhelm Bloch from the German Sport University Cologne warns urgently: "That makes a difference for the later illness."

As early as the spring, when the first fitness studios reopened in Germany after the lockdown, Bloch expressed himself critically because, in his opinion, the risk of infection was too great. Nothing has changed in his assessment since then. But he also emphasizes that the virus will probably be with us for some time to come - and that a visit to the fitness studio is part of a regular everyday life for many people.

Ask about ventilation

Therefore, certain precautionary measures are required in fitness studios. Bloch also appeals to visitors to the Muckibuden to inquire about them. "The first question should always be: How does the ventilation system work?" Says Bloch. "And then I would also have this ventilation system shown to me."

It is important that the systems in question are supplied with fresh air and that do not reuse exhaust air, which makes them a "virus spinner", according to the sports doctor. The systems would have to run at full speed in the coming winter, and the windows would also have to be opened if necessary. So if you go to the gym in winter, you have to dress warmly this year. "There shouldn't be a comfortable temperature there," says Bloch. Postscript: "But you can also do sport with a sweater and long sports trousers."

Not only professional ventilation, but also keeping your distance will be decisive in autumn. "If a spinning unit for 25 people is held in a small room measuring 60 square meters, it is too narrow," says Bloch. With good ventilation and in a sufficiently dimensioned room, however, highly intensive units are also possible.

Shower at home

With all caution: wearing a mask does not make sense when doing sports, especially not when it is a simple cloth mask. And sport with an FFP2 or FFP3 mask is then not practicable in the more intense stress area, according to Bloch. In some fitness studios, however, it is recommended to put on a mask between exercise machines - a measure that sports medicine specialists can also gain a lot from.

Most fitness studios have placed great importance on surface disinfection not only since the outbreak of the pandemic. To this end, the disinfectant dispensers were increased in most facilities and hygiene rules pinned to the wall. Devices and hands should now be disinfected frequently. In any case, it is important to avoid reaching into your face with your hands when exercising.

Bloch also advises you to avoid changing rooms and showers if possible and, if possible, to come to the fitness center already changed or to take a shower afterwards at home. And: "If you notice that it's too tight, you'd better go back."

If those are too many rules for you: With the right clothing, outdoor sports are possible at any time of the year. This can make you very cold under certain circumstances. But the risk of infection is very low. (Franziska Zoidl, September 12th, 2020)