The SafeACTiVE study, commissioned by EuropeActive the leading voice and non-profit association for the European fitness and physical activity sector, has analysed more than 62 million fitness facility visits since September and finds that the average infection rate is 0.78 per 100.000 visits – with only 487 positive cases reported from operators based in Germany, France, Sweden, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Poland, Denmark, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom.
The findings mitigate public health concerns about the safety of gyms and confirm that fitness clubs are safe environments with relatively low risk of Covid-19 infection. The research provides a strong argument for keeping the fitness and physical activity sector open during any future outbreaks of infectious diseases.
Professor Rob Copeland, Director of the AWRC, said: “Data from the SafeACTiVE study shows that gyms across the EU are safe places to exercise. The prevention of the further spread of Covid-19 has to be our primary objective but we also need to ensure that our communities are supported and have the opportunity to remain active. We know that being physically fit can help reduce the severity of Covid-19 infection and, moreover, being active can help us cope psychologically when faced with the challenges of a second wave of the pandemic across Europe.
"Keeping leisure centres and fitness clubs open and fully operational is critical to ensuring the health and wellbeing of our communities. I would go further and suggest that governments across Europe should be thinking about how we can increase access to activity, not reduce it, as we learn to live with Covid-19.”
Professor Alfonso Jimenez, Head of THINK Active at EuropeActive, said: “I am delighted to confirm such a low level of infection risk in fitness and health clubs, reinforcing the message that fitness and physical activity are a fundamental part of the solution during the Covid-19 pandemic in helping strengthen and improve immune functioning and lower risk of viral illness.”
The final report is expected to be released in November and will include detailed information by region and countries, considering the differences in infections rates across Europe.
Professor Jimenez added: “The SafeACTiVE Study has been made possible thanks to the generous support of Exerp, ExorLive, Life Fitness, Matrix, Myzone and Technogym.”
The AWRC, which forms the centrepiece of the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, is dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of the population through innovations that help people move. Its mission is to prevent and treat chronic disease through co-designed research into physical activity – whilst also attracting new jobs and investment to the region.