In summary

The California Safe Fitness Indoor Gym Reopening Plan would be the toughest requirement in the country.

By Richard Carmona, special for CalMatters

Richard Carmona was the 17th US surgeon general and currently serves on the advisory board of the UC Davis Chancellor at [email protected]. He advises fitness centers on ways to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in their facilities.

When Governor Gavin Newsom abolishes the state Orders stay at homeThere is significant focus on which companies can safely reopen. While staying at home is the safest way to minimize risks, keeping people in their homes is difficult and can ultimately affect their physical and mental health.

Physical inactivity has increased significantly over the past 10 months, which is problematic for cardiovascular health and immunity. ON Study of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the pandemic to have elevated levels of anxiety and depressive disorders among high-risk populations, including racial and ethnic minorities, vital workers, caregivers, and 1 in 4 young adults who contemplated suicide during the pandemic.

However, exercise has been shown to dramatically improve both physical and mental health outcomes. For many, the only safe place to work out is a fitness center.

In California, where open-air training could resume soon, indoor fitness centers are under consideration. Contract tracking data shows fitness centers are not the main spreaders of the virus, which is fair 0.06% of the community spread in the conditions where they are open – lower than retail stores, construction sites, salons and car dealerships.

As a US surgeon general, I coordinated with states to develop a unified national health policy. Today we have a few heads of state including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York Governor Lujan Grisham who have reopened fitness centers with appropriate public health measures given the low risk of gyms.

Meanwhile, California leaders have been encouraging citizens to “go outside” or “go for a walk on the beach” to exercise. Newsom recently tweeted that “mental health is physical health” and “now it’s so important to stay active and connected”.

While this is good advice, public health policy cannot ignore the fact that many Californians simply cannot exercise effectively at home or outdoors due to poor air quality, a lack of recreational spaces, or the inability to purchase and maintain fitness equipment and subscriptions at home. In addition, many people have already customized their own exercise regimen for the best results in a well-equipped gym.

To find a solution, large fitness facilities have teamed up to develop a reopening plan that follows CDC and other public health recommendations.

The California Safe Fitness PlanIf implemented, it would be the toughest requirements in the country while also providing critical access for fitness. The plan provides for limited capacity, a greater physical distance of 12 feet – double the national 6 foot standard – mandatory face coverings, and a record of every person entering a fitness facility for contact tracking.

In addition, the plan would require disinfecting equipment every 20 minutes during operating hours, closing it overnight from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. to disinfect all surfaces and equipment, and closing all communal locker rooms and showers while a region is in the “Purple Tier “Is located. ”

Perhaps most importantly, large fitness facilities allow for greater airflow and robust air circulation systems. According to the California plan, fitness centers would have to use a MERV-13 air filtration standard.

The closure of indoor fitness centers has meant that California’s vulnerable populations – already disproportionately affected by the pandemic – are struggling even more with their physical and mental health.

I experienced homelessness, hunger, and health inequalities in my youth, which helped me understand the importance of ensuring that all sections of the population have access to interventions that help improve overall health outcomes.

COVID-19 has posed serious healthcare challenges and difficult choices for policy makers. However, large fitness facilities want to be part of the solution by offering the implementation of strict safety protocols that allow individuals to improve their overall physical and mental health while minimizing the risk of COVID transmission.