Colorado study found no link between gyms and coronavirus outbreaks

A new Colorado study found that gym membership was not associated with any outbreak of COVID-19 in the state.

The news comes at a time when the blocking restrictions implemented by state and local officials across the country have resulted in gym operators having to close their doors for weeks and months in order to prevent the virus from spreading.

The study was commissioned by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, after saying in October that its data showed only 1,155 cases of COVID-19 resulting from more than 49 million gym check-ins, or 0.0023%, reported the Denver Post. The organization then asked the Oregon Consulting Group, based at the University of Oregon, to conduct an independent study to confirm or refute its findings.

The results were clear

The group analyzed gym attendance data against outbreak statistics provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment over a period of 32, from March 13 to October 15.

What they found was quite remarkable: of the nearly 8.5 million check-ins at fitness centers, none could be related to the 59 outbreaks reported by CDPHE. Outbreaks are events in which two or more people report that they have contracted the virus.

“Based on Colorado data as a proxy, there is no correlation between visits to health clubs and COVID-19 cases,” concluded the study, adding, “in relation to other public spaces like restaurants and bars, health and fitness facilities are less risky environments. “

The group pointed out that it is possible that the safety protocols and sanitation practices implemented by the academies could be a contributing factor in the results.

What else?

Based on the data, the consultancy group recommends that state and local leaders evaluate the data before preventing entry into fitness centers in their jurisdiction.

“If we look at the self-reported outbreak record in Colorado … gyms are not on the list so far, but bars and restaurants certainly are,” said OCG President Callum Kuo.

“We need to be reasonable and critical when it comes to assessing relative risk. And based on what we see in Colorado, gyms don’t belong to the same risk category as bars and restaurants, ”he explained. “We believe that states need to examine their data more closely before hastily closing gyms and making decisions instead based on what they are seeing in their respective states.”

To CDPHE’s credit, the most recent mandatory closures exempted health and fitness centers.

“We have been talking to stakeholders and we do not think this is one of the most risky settings because people wear masks in gyms. The gyms are guaranteeing social distance and also cleaning their equipment. So we are comfortable allowing that, ”said the department’s executive director, Jill Ryan.