Can you still go to the gym amid coronavirus outbreak? Picture: Instagram / Steph Claire Smith
Can you still go to the gym amid coronavirus outbreak? Picture: Instagram / Steph Claire Smith

Aussie panic: Can I still go to the gym?

There's nothing like a good workout to blow off steam - but with the world currently in the grip of the coronavirus outbreak, are trips to the gym safe?

It's a question health-conscious Australians are keen to know the answer to following government advice to limit travel and avoid large gatherings.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy addressed the gym concern on ABC's Insiders, explaining Aussies don't need to avoid going to the gym yet.

"I think the gym is fine, but everybody needs to practice good hygiene," he said.

"If you're going to the gym, I would be very focused on hand washing using hand sanitisers. All of those social distancing and good hygiene measures," he continued.

"We want everybody in the community to start practising those and to start thinking about how we will practice social distancing moving forward."

 

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said Aussies don’t need to avoid going to the gym yet. Picture: iStock
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said Aussies don’t need to avoid going to the gym yet. Picture: iStock

'HIGH PREVALENCE AREAS' FOR GERMS

The fitness spaces - which are synonymous with sweat - are notorious hot spots for germs, with a study in 2016 revealing free weights had 362 times more germs than the average toilet seat.

Many Aussie gyms and fitness business have responded to the government's advice to adopt "social distancing" to avoid the spread of the COVID-19.

Barry's Bootcamp announced yesterday it would be halving its classes to protect clients against exposure to the virus in studios. They also have implemented longer cleaning times between classes to disinfect and clean down the equipment.

 

Can you still go to the gym amid coronavirus outbreak? Picture: Instagram / Barry's Bootcamp
Can you still go to the gym amid coronavirus outbreak? Picture: Instagram / Barry's Bootcamp

Fitness First, a global chain which operates all across Australia, remain open and took fast action following a confirmed coronavirus patient visiting its George Street, Sydney, branch.

A team of specialist cleaners disinfected the gym following the exposure and it has since reopened its doors, with a spokesperson telling The Daily Telegraph the gyms follow a daily cleaning of equipment and public areas in line with Health Department recommendation.

COVID-19 "may persist on surfaces for a few hours up to a few days", according to the NSW health department.

Fitness Australia, a professional industry body within the industry, told news.com.au good health was "still a top priority for gyms during the coronavirus outbreak".

"We're working closely through regular contact with our member gyms, personal trainers and instructors to encourage them to take proactive preventative measures to protect their fitness communities against exposure to the virus," CEO, Barrie Elvish, said.

The fitness industry is insiting it is still safe to go to the gym, with Fitness Australia stating exercise helps the body’s immune system. Picture: Instagram / James Newbury
The fitness industry is insiting it is still safe to go to the gym, with Fitness Australia stating exercise helps the body’s immune system. Picture: Instagram / James Newbury

"We're also suggesting that they ensure additional signage and ask staff to model and encourage good habits with their customers including wiping down equipment before and after use, using their own towels to wipe their face and not coming to the gym if they aren't feeling well.

"It should also be acknowledged that expert medical and health advice highlights the importantce of moderate exercise in developing and maintaining an individual's immune function."

Can you still go to the gym amid coronavirus outbreak? Picture: Instagram / Steph Claire Smith
Can you still go to the gym amid coronavirus outbreak? Picture: Instagram / Steph Claire Smith

BE 'SUPER CAREFUL'

Australian physician and journalist Dr. Norman Swan said fitness fanatics should ensure they're being "super careful" in wiping down any equipment or areas they're going to touch with an alcohol-based sanitiser and practice good respiratory hygiene, adding gyms were among "high prevalence areas" from Chinese data on the viral disease.

"[The outbreak] doesn't mean you stop going to the gym, but it means you've got to be super careful in the gym. So you're going to wipe [things] down [there] with an alcohol hand sanitiser," the doctor told ABC.

"I'm still going to the gym, but I'm wiping down before and after. I'm using hand sanitiser and taking no chances in the gym… there's so much sweat and wetness," he continued.

"Dampness is a bad thing for spreading germs," Swan explained. "You've got these big blokes pumping away …. and you never know, one of them might be a super spreader."

However he did advise anyone going to the gym to steer clear of the steam room, explaining "nobody knows" the exact effects of heat on the coronavirus right now.

 

 

Will you still use the gym amid the coronavirus warnings? Let us know in the comments below.

Continue the conversation @RebekahScanlan | rebekah.scanlan@news.com.au