|Year : 2020 | Volume
| Issue : 4 | Page : 165-167
Behavioral changes in gym attending due to COVID-19 pandemic: A descriptive survey
Diena Almasri, Ahmad Noor, Reem Diri
Department of Pharmacy Practice, Faculty of Pharmacy, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
|Date of Submission||28-Jun-2020|
|Date of Acceptance||11-Jul-2020|
|Date of Web Publication||10-Dec-2020|
Dr. Reem Diri
Department of Pharmacy Practice, Faculty of Pharmacy, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Introduction: On the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown clearance in Saudi Arabia, the high-profile precautions were applied as a major step to resume the normal life activities and to coexist with the pandemic. One of those resumed activities is the reopening of the gym and fitness centers. The perception and the commitment with safe precautions in terms of personal hygiene and sterilization have dramatically changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this study was to assess the behavior of gym attendees toward preventive precautions prior to the pandemic and the behavioral changes that will be accommodated after the new policy and procedure of attending a gym and fitness centers. Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted in February 2020, a 1 month prior to the complete lockdown announcement in Saudi Arabia as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. An electronic questionnaire was provided during a personal interview with gym and fitness centers' participants. Results: The majority of participants never use sterile wipes or any sterile product before or after using gym equipment (61.6%), and 35.4% of gym attendants do not use any sterilization materials distributed through fitness centers. In addition, most of the participants have had an episode of skin infections or respiratory infection at the fitness center for the past 12 months (22.2%), whereas 80.8% do not know about tinea microbial that causes athlete's foot, and 65.7% of them utilize the shower in the gym after their workout. Conclusion: The lack of awareness of previous and new gym members regarding safety precautions during indoor exercise should be overcome by more future educational intervention and emphasizing on following the Ministry of Sports in Saudi Arabia, even after the complete clearance of COVID-19 pandemic.
Keywords: Awareness, COVID-19, gym, health precaution, Ministry of Sports, Saudi Arabia
|How to cite this article:|
Almasri D, Noor A, Diri R. Behavioral changes in gym attending due to COVID-19 pandemic: A descriptive survey. J Microsc Ultrastruct 2020;8:165-7
|How to cite this URL:|
Almasri D, Noor A, Diri R. Behavioral changes in gym attending due to COVID-19 pandemic: A descriptive survey. J Microsc Ultrastruct [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Jan 25];8:165-7. Available from: https://www.jmau.org/text.asp?2020/8/4/165/302969
| Introduction|| |
Since late 2019, the world is suffering from the COVID-19 infection, which declared to be a pandemic outbreak in the early 2020. The complete lockdown was global to limit the spread and mortality. The Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia declared a partial, followed by complete lockdown in March 2020, and then the lockdown was ended by late June 2020. On the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown clearance in Saudi Arabia, the high-profile precautions were applied as a major step to resume the normal life activities and to coexist with the pandemic. One of those resumed activities is the reopening of the gym and fitness centers.
The gym and fitness centers have become popular in the Saudi community in the past two decades, which resulted in more openings and membership registrations as people became more aware of the healthy lifestyle and that practice and physical activities became a part of their daily routine. With this social motivation to attend gym and fitness centers, the chances of getting infections become higher, especially if there is a little awareness of hygiene regarding working out and using gym facilities. Until recently, wiping the area of training in the gym with sterilizing products before and after training was considered a common social courtesy rather than a safety precaution for health environment. On the other hand, the use of sterilization products such as sterile wipes or sprays is less commonly distributed inside the gym center.
Several reviews have shown interest to investigate different aspects of spreading infections in gym and fitness centers. One review shows evidence that infection is currently a problem of epidemic proportions in athletes. Another study investigated the overall bacterial ecology of selected fitness centers in a metropolitan area.
In addition, one study aimed to analyze the risk of infection (influenza and tuberculosis) for individuals participating in physical exercise.
With the recent resuming and reopening the gym and fitness centers, the Ministry of Sports in Saudi Arabia issued a mandatory precaution that should be followed by individuals attending those facilities, including: (1) sterilize all sports equipment and tools before and after each use, (2) prohibit the alternating sports equipment between players (rounds), (3) preventing someone else from helping with training (example: weightlifting), (4) the distance between the equipment is not <1½ m to ensure the application of social distancing, (5) preventing overcrowding in the pool area by reducing the pool capacity, to ensure a distance of at least 1½–2 m between the trainees, (6) sauna, steam, or Jacuzzi should be used for one person only, and the facility should be disinfected after use, (7) obliging players to use clean towels when sitting on the equipment, and (8) ensure that players do not share the use of one equipment at the same time.
To our knowledge, this is the first study to describe the previous attitude of gym attendees in regard to infection protection in the gym and fitness centers in Saudi Arabia. The purpose of this study is to assess the behavioral and attitude changes that will be mandatory after the new policy and procedure of attending a gym and fitness centers to coexist with COVID-19.
| Methods|| |
A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted in February 2020, a 1 month prior to the complete lockdown announcement in Saudi Arabia as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. An electronic questionnaire was provided during an on-site personal interview with gym and fitness centers' participants. The study involved people who currently live in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and actively attend the gym. The target sample was 300 gym participants, and this was chosen according to a confidence interval 95% and confidence level 4.
The questionnaire includes 12 questions regarding demographic data, awareness toward health precaution, and previous history of community-acquired infection including respiratory and skin infections. Then, the descriptive analysis of data was done through Microsoft Excel.
The primary outcome defines as awareness of people who attend the gym toward safety and protective precautions to minimize the spread of community infection inside the gym facility prior to COVID-19 pandemic. The secondary outcome is the presence of the previous exposure to acquired infection that arises from the gym attending. Responses from the survey were analyzed using descriptive statistics through Microsoft Excel.
| Results|| |
There are 198 participants completed the questionnaire, all of them are male. The majority of them are aged between 18 and 25 years (64.6%). About half of them were registered to the fitness center for more than a year (52%), and most of the participants go to the gym for 4 days or more in a week (77.8%) [Table 1].
About 122 participants (61.6%) do not sterile the gym equipment before and after use. Furthermore, 65 participants (33%) use the towels that were provided by fitness centers when sitting on the equipment, whereas 27.8% of them never use them. Moreover, two-third of gym attendants never use sterilization and disinfection products (64.2%), and among those who do not use the sterilization products, most of them stated that sterilization products are not available or provided at the fitness centers (35.4%). Interestingly, gym attendants varied in their showering habits at the fitness center after training, but we found that the majority of the participants take shower at the gym after training (65.7%) [Table 2].
On the other hand, most of the gym attendants did not expose to any skin infections or respiratory infection during their subscription time at the fitness center (75.3% and 77.8%, respectively). However, only 8.5% of them know about tinea infection, whereas 80.8% do not know about the tinea microbial that causes athletic foot [Figure 1].
| Discussion|| |
This is the first study in Jeddah that sheds light on infections related to hygiene at fitness centers.
The key finding is that there was a high need for public awareness on the importance of personal hygiene and sanitation for public gym users even prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. Interestingly, there was limited awareness toward the infections that might be common among athletes as they tend to share equipment during a round cycle ignoring the health background of the workout partners. Overcrowdings accompanied with lack of awareness in the gym and fitness centers may lead to undesired consequences if the gym attendees did not pay attentions to keep the equipment they used sterilized and disinfected for themselves and to those whom using the equipment after them. Raising the awareness of cleaning the area of exercise before and after is a common sense rather than to be mandatory.
Another finding showed the lack of using personal towels when sitting on the equipment and sterilization products. Sweat is a normal function that a person can leave behind on the exercise equipment, which can facilitate spread of infection to the skin of another person. Using the personal clean towels and personal disinfection products should play an important role in minimizing the risk of transmitting infections even prior COVID-19 pandemic.
Finally, the survey found that the gym attendees tend to use the shower stations provide in the gym facility and they have limited awareness regarding tinea infection. It is common that shower station may facilitate the athletic foot infection as they provide an active environment of tinea infection. Raising the awareness and education of such knowledge is crucial.
The mandatory precaution by the Ministry of Sports in Saudi Arabia was issued recently as fundamentals for gym and fitness centers' operators and customers to accommodate indoor exercise with the coexisting COVID-19 pandemic. Fine and penalties will be applied for breaking those precautions. With these mandatory precautions, a significant change of behavior and attitude will be seen in regard to gym and fitness centers' attendees to minimize the risk of infection transmission, specifically, COVID-19 infection.
Our study is limited by the selectivity bias as we only targeted gym attendees who are age 18 or older.
| Conclusion|| |
A major changes in gym behavior to more committed care will be seen by the gym and fitness centers' operators and participants giving the recent mandatory precaution by the Ministry of Sports in Saudi Arabia. The lack of awareness of previous and new gym members should be overcome by more future educational intervention and emphasizing on following the Ministry of Sports in Saudi Arabia, even after the complete clearance of COVID-19 pandemic.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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[Table 1], [Table 2]