The Positive Mental and Physical Benefits of the Gym During the Coronavirus Epidemic
written by Lane's Fitness/Club 14 Fitness
During the last four months, there have been many regulations, theories, and media articles about the safety of a gym during the Coronavirus pandemic. This article is NOT about addressing masks and social distancing, which are helpful to overcome the virus. Rather, this is about addressing the truths that many people are ignoring on exactly why it’s important for gyms to stay open.
The CDC stresses the importance of staying healthy and physically active to help prevent Covid. Adults need 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity and at least two days of strength training. According to the CDC, teens need at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity daily.
While this may sound doable for people (just go out and walk briskly, run, or bike for 30 minutes five days a week), research has proven that nearly 80 percent of adult Americans do not get the recommended amounts of exercise each week, potentially setting themselves up for illnesses, including the Covid. Research has also linked physical inactivity to more than 5 million deaths worldwide per year — more than those caused by smoking.
According to the CDC, there are three primary precursors for contracting the Covid-19 Virus:
1. People of any age who are obese (with a BMI of 30 or higher) are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
2. Type 2 diabetes; and
3. High blood pressure (falls under the “may increase your risk” category)
Question: What is the thing all of these conditions have in common?
Answer: They are highly preventable with the correct diet and exercise.
That means, one of the best strategies you have to decreasing your risk of getting Covid and getting seriously ill is to take charge of your health and your body. But with 80% of Americans not getting the recommended exercise, it’s easy to see why this is a vicious cycle when it comes to preventing Covid.
A structured exercise routine is equally as valuable for mental health. According to a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, almost half of the U.S. population claims that the Covid crisis is hindering their mental health.
A study from the National Institute of Health reported that exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. These improvements in mood are proposed to be caused by exercise-induced increase in blood circulation to the brain and by an influence on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and, thus, on the physiologic reactivity to stress.
All of this is why fitness centers and gyms are so important. Not everyone can simply go outside to exercise (some climates are too hot in the summer; some people are more at risk of falling; and some people live in areas where it may not be safe to exercise outdoors — especially during early morning or night hours when people have the time before or after work.) And simply put: Some need the positive peer pressure and accountability of working out with others and having a coach and a team of instructors.
Our gym, and many others across the country, are among the cleanest and safest places to be right now. We routinely disinfect daily with the highest-quality Covid-fighting products; we enforce social distancing with spacing between machines and people; our classes are smaller and afford everyone at least 10 feet between other members; and our strict requirements for members with hand-washing and wiping down machines and equipment are strongly adhered to. Our members are continuing to stay healthy and strong in order to fight this virus.
Staying at home, not exercising, and not socially engaging can be among the worst things for someone’s mental and physical health — especially now. And yet, there are media articles and government interventions that continue to threaten this with baseless opinions, fear tactics, and regulations that are not scientifically fact-based.
To keep Covid at bay, we all need to do our part — and that includes staying informed and taking care of our bodies and being in charge of our health in whatever way works for people. Not everyone will thrive working out on their own, so the gym continues to play an important and safe role in keeping people healthy and giving them options to do so. We cannot let that right and privilege be taken away again from people who severely need it to stay healthy and strong.
Please join us in spreading the truths about the importance of physical exercise and the safety of gyms.