A new study conducted by the Oregon Consulting Group through data collected by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) found that visiting health clubs poses a very low risk of COVID-19 transmission. According to a release from the Colorado Fitness Coalition (CFC), researchers said the analysis confirms what health clubs have been communicating with their data; gyms have one of the lowest transmission rates of all industries.
CFC is working with the CDPHE, the Colorado General Assembly and local communities to ensure this data is considered in its efforts to support business recovery and allow health clubs to operate at higher capacity levels.
Researchers compared 32 weeks of Colorado gym attendance data representing nearly 8.5 million check-ins to the publicly available COVID-19 case counts. In its study, OCG found no correlation between COVID-19 case rates and gym attendance. It found no association to traditional gyms or fitness centers of the 59 different outbreak locations Colorado officials identified from more than 9,700 positive COVID-19 cases. A similar analysis of contract tracing data out of New York State discovered that gyms accounted for a low 0.06 percent of COVID-19 infections—one of the lowest of any business sector in the state. As such, Governor Andrew Cuomo eased capacity restrictions on gyms.
“There’s a lot of speculation regarding gyms that just isn’t based on facts and data. This independent study confirms that gyms are one of the safest places people will go all day,” said CFC Advisory Board Member, Paula Neubert of Club Greenwood. “Furthermore, maintaining our physical activity and mental health is critical in fighting the worst impacts of COVID-19.”
In a typical year, Colorado’s fitness industry generates $695 million in revenue, according to the CFC. If the current restrictions remain in place for much longer, Colorado will face the permanent loss of an estimated 200 gyms, 22,000 jobs and $12 million in payroll taxes, CFC predicted. The organization said that while the new 5-star certification program is a glimmer of light for many local gym owners who have gone above and beyond to keep the public safe, the relief may come too late for counties that do not qualify, don’t want to participate, delay in participating in the program, or put gyms behind the other thousands of businesses in line to get certified.
“There has never been a more critical time to make exercise a top priority. The risks for severe COVID-19 infection are essentially all of the diseases associated with an inactive and unfit way of life. Until we have a vaccine in hand, the best thing a person can do to protect themselves from COVID-19 is to exercise, eat right and not smoke,” said Dr. Robert Sallis, MD. “For this reason, we need to figure out ways to safely keep gyms and other venues for exercise open, so that people can stay active. It is clear that gyms in Colorado, and around the country, have done an excellent job at keeping people safe. Let’s not diminish the importance of gyms in our communities to keep people healthy and help them cope with the ongoing stress and anxiety of the pandemic.”