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Is It Safe to Return to the Gym? One Doctor's Advice

Many people have headed outside to exercise in this pandemic, but as the weather gets cooler, is it safe to return to the gym?

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Jackie McGuire is thrilled to be working out again at her fitness studio.

“It helps me mentally as well as physically so much more to get out of my home to be in a facility, even if people are 10 feet away from me, at least I know I'm not alone,” McGuire said.

With safety protocols like temperature checks in place, McGuire felt it was safe to return, but Denise Joyce feels differently.

“I have to say I really miss the gym,” Joyce said. “But we just thought, you know, we just can't chance it.”

McGuire prefers group fitness classes, where participants are limited and spaced out. Once she’s in her spot, she is allowed to take off her mask.

But Dr. Jeremy Alland, a sports medicine doctor at Midwest Orthopedics at Rush, said masks should be paramount, even while working out.

“As long as you feel okay about exercising in a mask and people around you are exercising in a mask and following protocols, I think that would make me feel much more comfortable,” Alland said.

To hit the gym, or not, is a nuanced debate, Alland said.

“The safest thing to do is to try to follow the CDC guidelines to the best of your ability. I think, especially with cases rising the way they are right at this moment, we're trying to recommend as much to people as possible to avoid going out in the public places. I think it comes down to how much personal risk somebody is willing to take,” Alland said.

Joyce said she will continue to use free weights at home and walk outside, even as the weather turns colder.

“There's no such thing as bad weather. There's only inappropriate clothing. I think if you can layer up enough, you can still do it safely,” Joyce said.

“I think the options at home have probably never been better than they've been in the past and I think if that's something where you can accomplish that and also feel like you're getting the exercise you need, it is probably the safest way to go, at least at this point,” Alland said.

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