Those who have received the COVID-19 vaccine are eager to resume their everyday activities, and for many people, that includes a trip to the gym, yoga class, or laps in a community pool. While fully vaccinated people are more protected than those who are not, health officials are still cautioning those who’ve been vaccinated to avoid gathering places or community facilities such as fitness centers, according to TODAY.
While being fully vaccinated means you had a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the first and only dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, more than two weeks ago, it’s no guarantee you’re 100% protected, experts warn. A study cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that fitness and sports facilities in South Korea might “increase risk for infection.” Dr. Bruce Hirsch, an infectious disease physician at Northwell Health in Long Island, New York told TODAY that information about COVID-19 is always changing. “It’s sneaky, it’s changing, and this is a critical time … So what I ask people to think about is that we’re almost there and we have a little more to go.”
So, how much longer should the fully vaccinated wait before returning to the gym?
There's no clear answer on when to return to the gym — yet
CDC guidelines state that people who are fully vaccinated can be indoors without masks on with other fully vaccinated people, but the South Korean study illustrates that when safety protocols are ignored, gyms can prove to be a super-spreader for the virus. This may be due to poor airflow, as well as a humid, warm environment, according to a report in Physician Sense.
If you decide to return to a gym before it’s recommended, there are tips you should follow. Paul Pottinger, MD, a professor at the University of Washington’s Department of Medicine, Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, gave some guidelines to Verywell. Avoid visiting a gym that isn’t adhering to CDC guidelines by requiring masks, social distancing, limiting capacity, and checking for symptoms at the door. Gyms should be well-ventilated, including having open windows, and gym employees should use effective cleaners on all shared equipment after each member’s use. You’ll find the CDC guidelines on cleaning facilities on its website.
As Dr. Bruce Hirsch told TODAY, “I think it makes sense to wear a mask — not only for one’s protection, but to protect other people around us. We still don’t have the virus under control.”
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