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Experts Warn Certain Exercises May Increase COVID-19 Risk, What You Need To Know Before Going To Gym

Since its advent in December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused 812,537 deaths, affecting over 23,586,641 people. All around the globe, scientists and health experts are ardently working towards providing a deeper understanding of the nature of the novel coronavirus, informing the public of its development, mutations, etc., hence creating further awareness on the on-going issue.

When the lockdown came into effect in March, the majority of fitness enthusiasts were confined to the limited spaces of their homes, working out with the help of fitness tutorials and faux-weights, transforming their balconies and study rooms into home-gyms.

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As part of the Unlock phase 3, the government of India has allowed fitness centres, gymnasiums and yoga institutions to reopen from 5 August 2020. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued specific guidelines to contain the spread of the COVID-19 infection, as health experts advise that gyms and fitness centres are one of the quickest ways one could contact the coronavirus [1].

So, if you are planning to go to a gym, please take a moment and go through the article. The article will help you stay fit while reducing the risk of contracting the coronavirus.

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Exercises That May Increase Your Risk Of COVID-19

When we say exercises that increase your risk of Covid-19 it does not mean that merely doing these exercises will do any harm to you or your immune system. It is all about where you do it and the level of precautions you take in the time of the pandemic.

While staying physically active could be the key to warding off COVID risk to an extent, health experts suggest that certain types of exercises are best to be avoided due to the fact that they can increase the risk of catching the coronavirus infection [2][3].

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According to experts, these are the types of exercises one should refrain from High-intensity Exercises.

Exercises such as jump rope workout, abs interval workout, lower-body interval workout etc. can increase a person's risk of developing COVID-19. High-intensity workouts may overstrain your body and weaken the immune system [4]. These types of exercises can expose the body to more stress than usual, elevating the chances of one developing respiratory distress [5]. As high-intensity workouts require precision, your body is excessively stressed.

When your body is under physical exertion, as a result of the exercises, it produces certain hormones that could temporarily lower the body's immunity [6]. This poses an increased risk for immuno-compromised individuals. Researchers are still studying the physiological process as to why high-intensity exercises increase the risk of coronavirus infection.

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The experts also added that one should refrain from doing excessive exercise, trying to get back all the time you lost in the lockdown. Working out for long hours could also be potentially bad for your immunity, suppressing it and increasing the risk for COVID-19 [7].

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Ministry of Health & Family Welfare Guidelines on Preventing COVID-19 Spread In Gyms

With the lockdown restrictions easing and gyms and yoga places opening, it is up to you to decide to choose to do to a gym or continue to work out from home. In both cases, we have got your covered.

For simple and effective workouts to do from home, read Home Exercises To Help You Burn Calories and Simple Exercises You Can Do At Home.

On the other hand, if you are planning to go to the gym, consider the following for a safe workout.

  • Individuals must maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet.
  • Yoga kriyas to be avoided or planned in open spaces.
  • People should go in batches, to avoid overcrowding.
  • Use of face covers/masks is mandatory at all times while in the gym, but, using a face mask during exercise may cause difficulty in breathing [8].
  • During yoga or exercising in gymnasiums, only a visor may be used.
  • Wash your hands with soap (for at least 40-60 seconds) even when hands are not visibly dirty, you can also use alcohol-based hand sanitisers (for at least 20 seconds) before and after using the pieces of equipment.
  • Respiratory etiquettes should be strictly followed, that is, cover your mouth
  • and nose while coughing or sneezing with a tissue/handkerchief/flexed elbow and dispose
  • the used tissues properly.
  • Make use of outdoor spaces (if the gym has one) to prevent the airborne transmission of the novel coronavirus.
  • Spitting is strictly prohibited.

Note: People above the age of 65, adults with co-morbidities, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 should not use fitness centres, gyms and yoga institutions in closed spaces.

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On A Final Note…

Several states and cities, including Delhi and Maharashtra, will continue to keep gyms shut. And in the areas where the gym will open, the staff capacity will be at 50 per cent. Do keep in mind that the COVID-19 pandemic is still at large in India, with 3,106,348 cases and 57,692 deaths. The recovery rate of 2,338,035 cases shows that 98 per cent of the affected people have recovered, with only 2 per cent in fatalities.

Practice Proper Hygiene. Stay Safe.

Story first published: Monday, August 24, 2020, 16:00 [IST]