The IHRSA is not exactly a disinterested party so you must take their recent article with a grain of salt. The national study quoted was conducted between May 1st to August 6th. Of the US 49.4 million US gym-goers tested in that time only 0.0023 percent tested positive for COVID-19. Lower than the national average. Based on this they suggest you should be training at the gym because not only does exercise improve immune function, it reduces the risk of co-factors associated with worse COVID-19 outcomes.
I’m suspicious of any studies financed by entities with interest in specific outcomes but I am actively monitoring the CrossFit Affiliate message boards. Most of us use software like Zen Planner, Mind Body or Wodify for member management. This type of software tracks registrations and since reopening, many CrossFits south of the border where cases of COVID are more prevalent have registered 4000-7000 attendances. The vast majority of gyms have reported no cases. Of the gyms reporting cases, most came from outside the gym with only a very few reporting any in-gym transmission and those cases were limited to 4 members or less.
This may seem hard to believe when compared to statistics regarding COVID-19 transmission in other settings but as I explained recently to Rocket, this is not exactly a random sampling of the population. These are people who prioritize health and fitness enough to return to the gym even while we’re facing the prospect of a second wave. I would guess most are fitter than average and are probably taking other immune-positive measures such as eating well. Also the gyms included in the IHRSA study and most of the CrossFit Affiliates we’ve heard from have been implementing strict preventative measures similar to those followed at Empower: reduced class sizes, social distancing, hand washing and equipment cleaning.
I do not believe that gyms are zero risk. And without appropriate safety measures I fear they’d serve as perfect transmission zones for COVID-19. But so far the number of in-gym transmissions is far lower than we’re seeing in the general population and that is very positive. Furthermore, regular gym users who have contracted COVID-19 seem to suffer far fewer and less severe symptoms (often none) than the population average.
But even for the general population the CDC’s recent survival stats seem reassuring:
ages 0-19: 99.997%
ages 20-49: 99.98%
ages 50-69: 99.5%
ages 70 & over: 94.6%
COVID vs Zinc
I’ve already discussed in an earlier post how vitamin D can help improve your immune function and better your chances against COVID but zinc levels have also been associated with better COVID outcomes. While there seems to be some preliminary evidence suggesting the vitamin D effect may be causative, I’m not aware of any such studies on the role of zinc but because athletes often suffer zinc deficiencies it might be worthwhile to check into this. I don’t specifically supplement with zinc but rely mostly on my whole food diet supplemented by my daily dose of HEAL.
COVID Hates Kids
For all you parents living with school-aged children it may be reassuring to learn that a Scottish study found that sharing a household with children reduced parents’ COVID risks.
Another thus far unexplained quirk of COVID-19 is that even adjusting for other factors, some minority groups seem to have worse COVID outcomes.
The mask wearing still makes me cringe but if it proves to be true this might be one of the best arguments for mask wearing.
There is so much we have yet to learn about COVID-19. As we seem to be plunging into our second wave it is important to keep our wits about us. Remember, in Vancouver at least, the first wave was not so bad. Let’s keep doing the stuff that got us safely through the first time. And before you allow fear to take hold, take another moment to reflect on the survival stats for COVID. Compare that to the stats for other causes of mortality like chronic lifestyle diseases (70-80% of the population). It is easy to focus on a novel, unfamiliar threat (HIV, Ebola, Zika virus) and blow it out of proportion while under estimating the dangers posed by the everyday, familiar and mundane threats (car accidents, cancer, heart disease). I certainly do not encourage reckless disregard but I do promote adopting a sense of perspective and proportion. Base your daily life decisions on realistic threat-assessments.
Saturday: Awful Annie
The 5th 2020 CrossFit Games WOD is Awful Annie. We can accommodate 9 individuals in the gym for this one or a few more if we have couples willing to team up for it. It will be time capped. As with the other competition WODs there is no guarantee that you will finish all rounds in the time allotted.
Equipment: Skipping Rope, Bar Bell
1 min Cross Crawls
1 min Skipping
1 min Bird Dog
1 min Power Cleans
WOD: Awful Annie
50 GHD sit-ups
40 GHD sit-ups
30 GHD sit-ups
20 GHD sit-ups
10 GHD sit-ups
Hands & Knees Rock