Wondering whether it’s safe to go back to the gym? Norwegian gymgoers may have some good news for you. A study on the risk of coronavirus transmission in Oslo found that people who went to a gym were no more likely to get infected, or sick, than people who didn’t. Norway has reopened its gyms based on the tentative results, which were published as a preprint yesterday and still need to go through peer review.
Mette Kalager, a clinical epidemiologist at the University of Oslo and one of the lead scientists on the study.
Kalager and her colleagues worked with gyms in Oslo to recruit about 4000 participants—none of whom had been tested for COVID-19—in May and June. At that point, Norway had reported 8309 confirmed cases and 235 COVID-19–related deaths since February, with the peak of the nationwide outbreak hitting in early May.
Although gyms across Norway were still closed, half of the participants were given the opportunity to train in five gyms that opened specifically for the study and upheld rigid standards of hygiene and social distancing, such as cleaning the machines after each use and keeping visitors 2 meters apart. The only people gymgoers encountered were other study participants and gym staff. More than 80% of people in this group made it to the gym at least once in the 2-week study period, and nearly 40% went more than six times. The other half weren’t allowed to visit the gym, and went about their daily lives as usual. After about 2 weeks, both groups tested themselves for SARS-CoV-2 using polymerase chain reaction swab tests.
Around 80% of the participants sent in their tests. None of 1868 people in the control group tested positive, and only one of 1896 gymgoers did—but that person had not yet been to the gym and likely was infected elsewhere, the researchers report in a preprint posted to medRxiv. Kalager and colleagues also searched Norway’s comprehensive public medical records and found that none of the participants in either group had been admitted to a hospital with COVID-19–related complaints.