With 62 million health club visits since September and just 487 positive COVID-19 cases reported, the average COVID-19 infection rate for European health club visitors is 0.78 per 100,000 visits, according to the SafeACTiVE study.
The study was commissioned by EuropeActive, the non-profit association for health clubs in Europe, and was conducted by Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre and King Juan Carlos University in Spain.
COVID-19 cases were self-reported by the health club operators, who were located in Germany, France, Sweden, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Poland, Denmark, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom.
The data from the study shows that gyms across the European Union are safe places to exercise, according to Professor Rob Copeland, director of the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre.
“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,” he said. “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 health clubs open is critical to keeping communities healthy, he said.
"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,” he said.
More details from the study will be available when the full study is released later this month.