New research from industry body, ukactive, has found gyms are almost risk-free environments for COVID-19, with an estimated 0.020 positive cases per 10,000 gym visits – results that are statistically insignificant. ukactive collated data from more than 1,300 gyms, health clubs and leisure centres to analyse the prevalence of the virus within the sector’s facilities. Charting the three weeks from reopening (from 25 July to 16 August), the data reveals that there were more than eight million visits to fitness facilities by members of the public. Only 17 people visiting gyms in England went on to test positive for COVID-19, giving the figure of 0.020 cases for every 10,000 visits, with only nine reported cases of COVID-19 among members of staff across all 1,300 facilities. ukactive says gym and leisure centre operators are well positioned to capture real-time data and are able to carefully record reported cases based on membership details held within their databases, as well as recording details for non-members, to allow for contact tracing – helping to inform authorities and other visitors quickly.
According to ukactive, the findings – released today (25 August) – support a "growing evidence base from across the globe" which shows that gym operating procedures are proving very effective at protecting people from COVID-19. “This sample shows an extremely low prevalence of COVID-19 among people who visit gyms and leisure facilities," said Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive. “Our sector has worked tirelessly to demonstrate its safety to the public and this new evidence helps us prove that these efforts are paying dividends, allowing us to get back to our work of keeping the nation happy and healthy. We will continue to monitor closely – with our members – the number of COVID-19 cases, to show that the sector is being responsible in limiting its spread,” he said. The sector worked closely with the UK government to develop the guidance for reopening safely, including organising site visits for the deputy chief medical officer and SAGE representatives to a range of facilities. Regular exercise has been shown to improve a person’s ability to regulate the immune system, which is essential for avoiding the severe symptoms of COVID-19.