JCDH doctor says going to the gym during pandemic is ‘risky’
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - As more gyms work to reopen safely, we’re finding out if the physical and mental benefit of a good workout outweighs the risk of getting infected.
We spoke with Dr. Wesley Willeford, Medical Director of Disease Control at the Jefferson County Department of Health.
He said gyms are really taking this seriously, with some checking temperatures, keeping machines six feet apart, and wiping down equipment.
But he said that only lessens the risk, it doesn’t eliminate it altogether.
Dr. Willeford said you have to consider your own vulnerability and the health of those around you.
Do you have any chronic medical conditions that put you at increased risk? Are you above the age of 65?
Those are people Dr. Willeford said would be a vulnerable group if they caught the virus at a gym.
He said face coverings may be difficult if you’re doing high intensity workouts, but it is a good way to protect yourself.
Dr. Willeford said he's seen Plexiglas partitions being installed between machines. He said those may offer some protection, but particles containing the virus can easily spread above the partition.
He said one of the biggest concerns he has is people who go to the gym who are asymptomatic and infecting people without even knowing.
"I think that any time that we’re getting a lot of people in one place, fairly close, breathing heavily, I think we run the risk of seeing more COVID. So it does worry me to go right now," said Dr. Willeford. "And if there’s any way that you can move to a home gym regimen, I think that’s the safest thing, the absolute safest thing."
Dr. Willeford said if you do choose to go to the gym, try not to go during peak hours or when your gym says it’s the busiest.
He also said wearing gloves to the gym gives you a false sense of security because people still touch their face with gloves on and it prevents people from washing their hands more often.
And most importantly, if you have a fever, feel sick, or have a cough, don’t go to the gym.
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