The exercise classes with the lowest COVID-19 risk, according to the experts
Yoga or dance? As fitness fans prepare to return to the gym, which classes are safe to sign up for?
As the coronavirus-related lockdowns ease around the world, gyms and fitness classes are finally beginning to open up. From social distancing to plastic partitions to temperature taking on arrival, there are a number of precautions set to take place in gyms all over the world. However, which of your favourite classes are going to be safe to attend?
One study set to be published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases gives us an inkling as to where we stand on coronavirus-related risks during group fitness classes. The study mainly examined fitness dance classes in South Korea, measuring the rate of coronavirus spread during intense four-hour workshops.
The study found the virus had a rate of infection, or an "attack rate", of 26.3%. This is a much higher rate of infection than initially expected, largely due to strenuous workouts while sharing a confined space.
Any similar exercise in a confined indoor area, such as spin classes, or sports which require physical contact, such as boxing, paired dancing or martial arts, are unlikely to be safe to return to anytime soon. These are considered very unsafe due to their vigorous nature and close contact increasing the likelihood of spreading the virus through tiny droplets carried around the room.
However, there's good news too, especially for yogis. The South Korean study found one instructor taught yoga in the same facility as the dance classes, and none of the yoga students contracted the virus.
This is theorised to be because of the less vigorous and highly individual nature of yoga: with slow, flowing movements resulting in less sweat and heavy breathing, yogis are also confined to their own mats during workouts. With social distancing in place, yoga is considered a much less "at risk" workout than the classes listed above.
Of course, the fitness classes available in your area should all conform to safe coronavirus practices, with any shared equipment sanitised before and after each workout.
Want to be even safer? Work out outdoors. With social distancing in place, the risk is even further reduced, and you're able to perform more strenuous exercises like HIIT, outdoor yoga and boot-camp style workouts with very little risk of infection. If you're using any shared outdoor equipment, like pull-up bars in parks, make sure you keep hand sanitiser on hand.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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