Health experts: Working out at home is still the safest option

Published: Jun. 17, 2020 at 9:48 AM CDT
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After months of finding ways to stay active and in shape at home, there’s a lot of excitement over the re-opening of gyms and fitness centers.

Before you hurry back, health experts want you to know the risks and what you could be exposing yourself to. The gym just may be one of the dirtiest places you can walk into.

“Even before the pandemic that we’re in now, gyms can be dirty places because there’s just so many different people sharing equipment. So even pre-pandemic, like during the flu and stuff like that, going to the gym is just something you got to be very cautious with,” said Bryan Combs, Ph. D., a nurse practitioner at UAB’s School of Nursing. “I think bathrooms are one that people always think about, like the showers and you know, having to wear sandals and not going barefoot."

Combs says often, people don’t think about the treadmills.

“They’re like, 'Oh, well, I’m just running but it doesn’t mean you’re not holding on to the railing, doesn’t mean that you’re not holding on to the keypad, you have to turn stuff on. And if someone’s sweating and they rub all over them, they don’t wipe it down and then you don’t, you’re just sharing that kind of stuff,”

Combs say some things might be surprising.

"For example, like water bottles. You use your water bottle, you fill it up, you go home, and then you never clean it because it’s got water and you don’t think about it you don’t think about what you’ve touched on the outside and all that kind of stuff.”

Even with new regulations in place, and fitness centers paying more attention to cleanliness, Combs still isn’t ready to head back to the weight room.

“Yes, gyms if they are opening, and they are following guidelines, they should be doing a significant amount of cleaning, a significant amount of awareness they may not have had before. And there’s the hope that they are doing that. But I don’t know that it’s going to change my comfort much,” Combs adds.

According to Combs, working out at home is still our safest option.

"The best answer is still going to be stay away from anybody and anything you don't have to necessarily be around. And we're seeing that in the numbers are spiking and kind of going back up, which was going to be expected when you opened up the states and opened up businesses anyway. However, it just shows that we're not done. I mean, this isn't going away in the next week. So because of that, anything that we can do at home, that we can manipulate an alternative and actually do it at the house or in our own home is going to be the better option by far,"

Combs said this is the time to get creative.

"For someone who uses lighter weights, whether it's cans or gallons of milk or something like that, or if you're if you're a bigger guy, then get you know, five gallon buckets from a hardware store and fill up a water fill them up or rocks or something because those are heavy. I mean doing something like that if you need more weight, but just just getting as inventive as possible," Combs suggested. "You know, you can do online yoga, I think this is the this is the perfect time for people to learn yoga. You don't need anything to do it. It's really good for you but you don't need anything else to do it other than just the screen and someone telling you what to do."

And the risk of exposing yourself to harmful germs, is greatly decreased when you work out at home.

"The hope would be that in your home, everyone's already exposed to the same stuff anyway, so even if you are sharing equipment, it's not like if you're using it and then your spouse is going to use it, you're not going to revive it then. Theoretically, you know, the you're not necessarily sharing stuff, but I would say just at the end of every day you make sure you clean it. Make sure you wipe it off because we should be doing that anyway just because we sweat and stuff like that anyway, we should always be doing what we can to disinfect," Combs said.

For those who just have to get back into the weight room or workout classes, Combs has this advice.

“Don’t really communicate with anyone that you don’t have to, always stay six feet apart from each other. Even if you’re talking always have your face mask on. And then when you get into the facility, don’t use your hands on doors, make sure you’re pushing with your elbow. Make sure you’re opening stuff up if you can without using your hands. Don’t touch your face. Leave your face mask on,” said Combs. “Honestly, if you go into a place and for some reason they are allowing people to work out without a face mask, you just may have to cut it and call it quits and go somewhere else, because I’m not going to stay there. Even if it is six feet apart. With people breathing that heavy. It’s going to go further than six feet.

Combs says the answer is still going to be working out at home.

"I mean, it’s just the it’s the safest way to do it.”

Copyright 2020 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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