High-impact exercise still forbidden in Alberta's gyms due to COVID-19 risk

Mar 2 2021, 4:05 pm

Alberta health officials say low-impact exercises are now allowed in indoor fitness centres, but high-impact exercises are not.

They haven’t specified what counts as high impact versus low impact, leaving gym operators to make that call themselves.

“The goal is compliance, not sanctions,” Health Minister Tyler Shandro said at a news conference Tuesday, where he acknowledged Monday’s announcement that restrictions around gyms were loosening caused some confusion.

“Gym and studio and fitness centre operators need to use best judgement to decide what category exercise classes fall into,” Shandro said.

On Monday, he gave examples of low-impact exercises such as pilates, tai chi, and indoor rock climbing.

High-intensity exercise leads to elevated heart and breathing rates, which lead people to exhale more droplets into the air, Shandro explained. That can increase the possibility of someone catching COVID-19 if an infected person is in the room.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the goal is to reopen fitness centres for lower-risk activities.

They said they’re looking at BC’s model for inspiration, where certain high-impact activities such as spin classes are forbidden.

Alberta hasn’t placed specific capacity limits on gyms. Instead, fitness centres should only allow in as many people that can fit in physically distanced spaces spread three metres apart.

Hinshaw reminded Albertans that they can still engage in high-impact exercise at home or outdoors in the meantime.

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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