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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Sweat – a problem? Six facts you should know before visiting the fitness center

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Finally the fitness centers are allowed to open again – if they adhere to the protection concept. Athletes should keep a few things in mind to protect themselves against the corona virus.

Hand hygiene is crucial in the fitness center.

Hand hygiene is crucial in the fitness center.

Halfpoint / imago stock & people

“Sweat itself has no viruses in it,” says Huldrych Günthard, senior doctor at the Clinic for Infectious Diseases and Hospital Hygiene at the University Hospital Zurich. Sweat can only become a problem if it is mixed with mucus while doing sports and is stroked on the face. This can lead to smear infections because there can be viruses in the sweat-mucus mixture. Mucus and saliva are the body fluids with the highest virus concentrations. The droplets from the saliva are the most contagious because the coronavirus first settles in the nasopharynx.

We get a lot of breath in sports. Droplets fly a little further than in a quiet table discussion. The two meters in the fitness center are important. But there is no need to fear the aerosols. «I generally don’t think that aerosols play a big role in Sars-CoV-2. If these were important, we would most likely have many more infections, »says Huldrych Günthard. Infections happen through the larger droplets that arise when sneezing and coughing.

“Yes, this is possible if every time a device is used, it is disinfected cleanly and thoroughly,” says Günthard. “In addition, visitors should always disinfect their hands before going on to a new device.” It’s worth it, because you now know how long the corona virus will stay on surfaces. Three days, explains the Zurich infectiologist. Possibly up to five days depending on the surface, for example on plastic and smooth surfaces such as metal. “But much shorter on fabrics, wood, paper and the like.” So also on tennis balls. For Günthard, tennis is therefore not a problem. Viruses find it more difficult to settle on the rough surface of tennis balls. Smooth balls and the equipment in the fitness center are trickier. Nevertheless, according to the protection concept of the tennis association, each player only has to take his own, marked balls in his hand. The general rule is that smear infections can occur in shared devices and balls. But much more directly with close physical contact.

Take a shower in the fitness center or rather at home? For Günthard, showers are no problem, especially if they have partitions. Then the changing rooms. After exercising you are sweaty, your nose may drip and you touch different things. If you can, you should avoid the wardrobe for the time being or make sure that there is sufficient space and hand hygiene. According to Günthard, you can protect yourself in the dressing room with a mask.

Masks make sense in the cloakrooms, but the infectiologist cannot imagine that a mask can be good for sports if you activate the cardiovascular system accordingly. “That would probably still work with curling,” says Günthard. When you exercise, you breathe more, because the mask clearly prevents it and the performance drops massively. “In addition, the mask quickly becomes damp and unusable.”

The risk of infection in the fresh air is lower because the wind ensures rapid air exchange. The risk is very small when jogging. It is better, however, if you do not run too close in a row and overtake or cross on the Finnish track at a distance.

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