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Exercise is good for physical and mental health, but with coronavirus cases surging across the country, exercising indoors with other people could increase your chance of infection. So, as gyms reopen across the country, here are some things to consider before heading for your workout.
Assess your own risk
It starts with you, says Dr. Saadia Griffith-Howard, an infectious disease specialist with Kaiser Permanente.
“You have to make your own assessment of how risky it is based on knowing your medical situation and whether you are someone who’s at high risk for an infection,” Griffith-Howard says.
People 65 years and older are at higher risk for getting a severe case of COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So are people with certain underlying health conditions, like diabetes, heart or lung disease, or those who are immunosuppressed.
So if you fall in a high risk category, Griffith-Howard says it may not be worth the risk.
“If it was someone in my family [who was high risk] I would suggest that they not go to a gym,” she says.
Consider alternatives for working out
If you want to exercise indoors, it’s safer to do it at home, says Doug Reed, an immunologist and aerobiologist at the University of Pittsburgh.
“That’s what I’m doing now,” he says. “When the weather’s nice, I’m jogging outside, but when it’s not, I’m doing some weights and stretches and exercise indoors.”
Exercise outdoors is a great low-risk alternative, agrees Dr. Nikita Desai, a pulmonologist with the Cleveland Clinic. When you are outside it’s easier to control how close you get to other people.
“I would be less worried about the jogger who is running past you for a split second and more worried about the person who’s working out next to you without a mask for half an hour,” she says.
And the risk of transmission is lower outside than inside,…