Can You Go Back to The Gym?  Should Gyms Be Re-Opened?

An interesting pre-print by the TRAiN study group in Norway investigated SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission and COVID-19 disease attributable to training facilities. They randomised 18 to 64 years old with no COVID-19 relevant comorbidities at five training facilities in Oslo, Norway to no access to gymnasium or access to gymnasium.

Facilities were then opened from May 22 for individuals randomised to the training facility.  They did apply increased social distancing 1 metre for floor exercises, 2 metres for high-intensity classes.  They also applied enhanced hand and surface hygiene.  Locker rooms were open, but showers and saunas were closed. 

They then compared SARS-CoV-2 PCR status by self-administered naso, oropharyngeal and sputum sampling after two weeks and looked at clinical disease by investigating electronic patient records after three weeks. 

3,764 individuals were randomised and included in the analyses.  1,896 were allocated to the training gymnasium facility and 1868 into the no training facility. 

In the training gymnasium facility, 81.8% trained at least once at the facility.  Out of the 3,016 individuals who returned SARS-CoV-2 PCR tests, there was only one positive test.  The positive individual was randomised to the training arm but had not used the facility before the testing day.  Contact tracing revealed the workplace as the transmission source.  A total of 106 individuals had outpatient hospital visits and six individuals were admitted to hospital during the three weeks after the intervention start with no difference between the different groups. 

In either group there were no outpatient visits or hospital admissions due to COVID-19.  They concluded that provided there was good hygiene and social distancing measures, there was no increased COVID-19 spread at training facilities.

The bottom line here is that the people who went to the gym were no more likely to get infected or sick then those people who did not.  The problem with this study is that there were no SARS-CoV-2 positive patients whatsoever and what is unclear is what would have happened had one of the gym goers actually been infected.  This study was done in Norway when there was already an extremely low incidence of COVID-19 infection.

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