There’s been a lot of talk about whether gyms should stay open or be forced to close while the world is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. But a new study has suggested that gyms throughout Europe pose an extremely low risk of infection and should be kept open for the health and wellbeing of their communities.
Having analysed more than 62 million gym visits from 14 European countries since September, researchers at Sheffield Hallam University discovered that just 487 infections had been reported by operators, which works out to a rate of 0.78 cases per 100,000 visits.
The SafeACTiVE study was conducted by Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC), alongside King Juan Carlos University in Madrid, Spain.
Director of the AWRC Professor Rob Copeland said: “Data from the SafeACTiVE study shows that gyms across the EU are safe places to exercise.
“The prevention of the further spread of Covid-19 has to be our primary objective but we also need to ensure that our communities are supported and have the opportunity to remain active.
“We know that being physically fit can help reduce the severity of Covid-19 infection and, moreover, being active can help us cope psychologically when faced with the challenges of a second wave of the pandemic across Europe.
“Keeping leisure centres and fitness clubs open and fully operational is critical to ensuring the health and wellbeing of our communities.
“I would go further and suggest that governments across Europe should be thinking about how we can increase access to activity, not reduce it, as we learn to live with Covid-19.”
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Sheffield Hallam’s research was commissioned by EuropeActive – a non-profit association for the European fitness and physical activity sector.
Professor Alfonso Jimenez, head of THINK Active at EuropeActive, said: “I am delighted to confirm such a low level of infection risk in fitness and health clubs, reinforcing the message that fitness and physical activity are a fundamental part of the solution during the Covid-19 pandemic in helping strengthen and improve immune functioning and lower risk of viral illness.”
The full report is expected to be released in November.
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