Has the pandemic sidelined your workout routine, putting you on the couch and fearful of leaving your home to get exercise? You wonder, is working out worth the risk? Ease back into exercising by identifying an activity you like within your comfort level for risk exposure. Action comes before motivation, so pick something and go for it while keeping in mind the following safety tips when working out around others.

Highest Risk: Gyms and Fitness Studios

Risks: They are high due to many people being in one place, possibly not wearing masks, and difficult to physically distance.

Benefits: You get access to a variety of equipment, personal training and group classes.

How to reduce exposure risk when gyms reopen

  • Ask the gym what they’re doing to reduce risk (they should be following county guidelines).
  • Make sure the equipment you use is clean and avoid using equipment if you can’t use it exclusively during your workout.
  • Don’t touch your face. Use a clean towel to soak up your sweat.
  • Stay in well-ventilated areas with open doors, windows, and fans running.
  • Keep your distance from others and stay back from people who are breathing heavily. 
  • Follow mask-wearing guidelines.
  • Reduce time in common areas such as cafes, locker rooms and showers.
  • Choose classes carefully. Attendance should be greatly reduced to allow for distancing.
Lower Risk: Outdoors

Risk: They are minimal due to good ventilation, ability to stay distanced, and no shared equipment.

Benefits: You can exercise safely with others with California’s mild weather allowing for year-round activities.

How to reduce exposure risk:

  • Always bring a mask with you in case you can’t keep a safe distance from others.
  • Avoid crowded areas such as beaches and pools. Don’t congregate in parking lots.
  • If working out with a trainer or friend, use your own equipment. Stay more than six feet apart.
  • When using hiking trails, follow any one-way signs, or stay on the widest trails.
Lowest to no risk: At Home

Risk: You’re not in physical contact with others outside of your family.

Benefits: You can use technology to connect with others using recorded videos or live stream.

How to do it:

  • Schedule your workout time with a personal trainer or friend to get motivated.
  • Make use of the workout “equipment” you have available: soup cans, water bottles or milk jugs as dumbbells, or do bodyweight workouts.
  • If you have commercial equipment (i.e., BOSU, TRX), check to see if the brand offers online workout videos.
  • Do online workouts led by certified professionals to avoid injury.
  • Plan the type of exercise you do during the week, so you don’t over-train:

HIIT – Do no more than three times a week with a rest day in between for recovery.

Strength/resistance – Depending on frequency, either do different body parts on alternate days or a whole body workout (squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, rotate, gait)

Pilates or yoga – They can be done more often or as an active rest day.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s something you enjoy, so you stay consistent. Recruit others to help you get going. Any activity you do besides sitting can add up to over half of your daily calorie expenditure. Yes, house cleaning and laundry count!

By Jennifer Slaboda