While the fear of coronavirus continues to spread, it's important that we aren't abandoning healthy habits that we have created over the years. People are apprehensive to be active out in public, which could lead to a lack of physical activity and decline in general health. Coronavirus still doesn't hold a candle to heart disease in this country.
The CDC's guidance on prevention for the coronavirus is pretty straightforward. Cleaning frequently used objects, avoiding touching our eyes, nose and mouth and staying home when we're sick highlight a list of seven action items which can be found here.
If we're willing to accept the risks of a world full of viruses, here are five action steps we can take to protect ourselves at the gym.
1. Wipe down benches both before and after using them
This one should be a no-brainer even without a pandemic. This is a fantastic opportunity to remind ourselves that there were sweaty people on that bench directly before us and there will be sweaty people on it after we leave. Use ample cleaning solution and be sure to get the sides of the padding along with the handles if the bench has them. Wiping it down thoroughly can help protect us and others.
2. Wear gloves
Dumbbells, cable machines and other commonly used gym equipment will be in need of consistent cleansing. Wearing gloves serves as another barrier between us and potential infection. Rubber gloves are the best option for a solid barrier between your hands and any potential viruses.
Although wearing rubber gloves may look silly, it can help protect us and others. If wearing a pair of lifting gloves, be sure to wash them thoroughly before and after use.
Wearing an N95 mask is not recommended by the CDC for healthy persons but is recommended to those exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus. If we are showing symptoms, instead of wearing a mask to the gym, let's stay home and protect our fellow gym members.
3. Use a wiped-down mat instead of lying directly on the floor
The floor is the domain of many great exercises but is also on the receiving end of sweat, spit and any other grossness that we can think of. Next time we are looking to hit another set of Glute Bridges, using a mat that is wiped down thoroughly can help protect us and others.
Simply adjusting our workout to avoid exercises that demand lying on the ground is another way to go. Staff members are always ready with recommendations to substitute exercises that keep our faces away from the floor, bench or other often-used equipment.
4. Complete cardiovascular exercise outside or at home
Cardiovascular exercise has been shown to temporarily deplete our immune system, which means we may be at our most vulnerable while trying to finish the last quarter-mile on the treadmill. Completing cardiovascular exercise at home or outside in a well-ventilated area can help us stop the spread of COVID-19 and others during this flu season. If we must do cardio at the local gym, being sure to wipe it down before and after using using disinfectant spray can help protect us and others.
5. Shower at home
Many of us already do this but it's no surprise that gym bathrooms can leave something to be desired in terms of sanitation. although it may mean that we have to change our schedule a bit, taking the time to account for a shower at home can limit another way that a virus spreads. If we must shower at the gym, being mindful of others by wearing shower shoes and limiting our contact with the locker room floor can help protect us and others.
If we fall into the category of an at-risk population, which the CDC sees as those who are older and/or have preexisting medical conditions, it may be best to simply train at home. There are plenty of online programs that can be used to keep exercising and staying healthy without the added risk of a public gym.
At the end of the day we want to be healthy and happy. To do this we need to take actions that protect both ourselves and those around us. Stay active, stay healthy and stay clean!
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