Home / News / India /  COVID-19: Gyms, yoga institutes re-open today. Is it safe to go during coronavirus pandemic?

Starting today, India has opened the gymnasiums and yoga institutes for enthusiasts after more than four months. The central government has introduced a new set of guidelines for gyms and yoga centres amid COVID-19 pandemic.

Is it safe to go to the gym during the coronavirus pandemic?

The experts across the globe say that if you live in an area, where the coronavirus spread is being contained, you can go for a workout. But, it is best to stay away from gyms if you live in an area which has high caseloads. In India, the gyms and yoga institutes in the containment areas will remain closed. The spas, saunas or swimming pools are also prohibited to prevent the virus spread. Some basic etiquette like wearing face covers, maintaining a social distance should be strictly followed to prevent the spread.

Who all are allowed to go?

Elderly people who are above the age of 65 years and those who are with co-morbid conditions are advised to stay away from gyms. Children below 10 years and pregnant women will not be permitted.

Cover you face but be careful

Face cover or face mask has become a part of our lives amid coronavirus outbreak. Only asymptomatic people with face masks and face covers will be allowed in the premises, the government said. However, government has asked to use only a visor during yoga or workout. Earlier, the government has warned against using N95 masks with valves. "Wearing masks during exercise may cause difficulty in breathing," the home ministry said.

The members must bring their own exercise mats and take them back home. In yoga institutes, footwear should be preferably taken off outside the premises, and must be kept in separate slots.

“In view of the potential threat of the spreading of infection, as far as feasible recorded music or songs may be played and shouting or laughter yoga exercise should not be allowed," said the ministry.

Experts also suggest bringing a backup mask. If the one you’re wearing gets really damp with sweat, she says it might not be as effective.

Maintain 6 ft distance

To ensure everyone stays at least 6 feet apart, gyms should take steps such as moving machines, blocking off areas and limiting the number of people allowed inside, Dr Marybeth Sexton, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at Emory University told news agency AP.

“Individuals must maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet as far as feasible," the home ministry guidelines stated. The gyms owners are asked to place the equipment 6 feet apart.

Avoiding the locker room, bringing your own water bottle and using hand sanitizer also helps reduce risk, Sexton says.

Gym sessions are going to change

The members should be allotted separate time slots to maintain adequate physical distance. The number of people allowed in an area must be restricted. The strict crowd management measures and social-distancing norms must be put in place at parking lots, corridors and elevators, according to ministry guidelines. Lockers can be used if all the measures are in place.

ACs should be between 24-30 degree Celsius

For air-conditioning and ventilation, the government said that the guidelines of Central Public Works Department (CPWD) shall be followed which emphasizes that the temperature setting of all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30 degree Celsius, relative humidity should be in the range of 40%-70%, intake of fresh air should be as much as possible and cross ventilation should be adequate.

Gym staff should be cleaning exercise machines between uses and regularly wiping down other frequently touched areas with products that kill viruses. Even for those being careful, gyms pose a risk.

Maintaining social distancing can still be challenging in a gym, especially in indoor places where ventilation is limited. If you can manage to break a sweat without returning to the gym just yet, that’s the best option, expert says.

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