Gyms and your Health

Private gyms, community recreation centers and college athletic facilities are good places to get in shape.  Their assortment of exercise equipment, availability of fitness trainers and offer of socialized exercise benefit a wide variety of citizens, from children to the elderly.

On the other hand, one need not be a germaphobe to realize that these indoor facilities, like day care centers, corporate offices, airliners and mass transit vehicles, increase your exposure to a variety of seasonal viruses.  Despite modern gym etiquette, which encourages hand washing and the use of antibacterial wipes on the equipment, most viruses spread via respiratory droplets, which often occurs before the individual is symptomatic.

While exercise should never be discouraged and gym use is highly preferable to watching sporting events from your couch, one might consider the advantage of outdoor activities (walking, hiking, biking, tennis, skiing, etc.) which combine aerobic exercise with fresh air; socialization might be included by joining clubs in which like-minded individuals participate in group exercise.  In my opinion, the availability of high-tech equipment is an overrated advantage of recreation centers; simple exercises, combined with aerobic activity, are more than adequate to keep yourself in excellent condition.  Besides, such an approach is free, can be performed outdoors and may be combined with other interests such as birding, backpacking and nature study.