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Gyms and leisure facilities in England have seen more than 22 million visits since reopening but just 78 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among customers, according to new figures published by ukactive.

Data from over 1500 facilities across the nation shows that the prevalence of the virus within the sector’s facilities remains extremely low, measured from 25 July to 13 September, and that very few people are visiting gyms with the virus.

Based on the data reported, the number of cases per 100,000 visits is 0.34, showing that protocols for monitoring and reporting the virus in the sector are helping to reduce the risk to visitors.

The reported cases represent incidents where the authorities have informed facilities that a user, who has had a positive result since, attended a facility within a certain time period – rather than indicating transmission in the gym environment specifically.

In addition to 78 positive cases reported traced to customers who have used a facility, there have been just 38 cases among members of staff.

The UK total, which takes into account different reopening dates in the devolved nations, shows a similar picture, with just 0.35 cases per 100,000 visits.

Gym and leisure centre operators are well positioned to capture real-time data effectively. They are able to carefully record reported cases based on membership details held within their databases, as well as recording details for non-members, to allow for contact tracing – helping to inform authorities and other visitors quickly.

The findings support a growing evidence base from across the globe showing that COVID-19 has a low prevalence in the gym environment.

Gyms and leisure facilities in the UK continue to follow strict Government guidance in order to remain open, ensuring social distancing among staff and customers, proper ventilation throughout, and comprehensive cleanliness protocols.

The sector worked closely with the Government to develop the guidance for reopening safely, including ukactive facilitating site visits for the Deputy Chief Medical Officer and SAGE representatives to a range of facilities.

Regular exercise has been shown to improve a person’s ability to regulate the immune system, which is essential for avoiding the severe symptoms of COVID-19.

Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “These findings show that the number of people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 visiting gyms remains extremely low, which is evidence of the huge efforts being made by gyms to ensure people do not visit if they might have the virus.

“This shows that the proactive protocols put in place by gyms and leisure facilities to prevent people with the virus from visiting them are working, alongside the highest standards of cleanliness and safety to reduce the risk.

“We must remain vigilant and continue to monitor the situation closely so that the Government and local authorities are armed with the best possible evidence to inform decisions about the sector.

“Our sector is helping to get the nation fitter and better prepared to fight the virus as we enter the autumn, providing an essential health service to the UK.

“The fitness and leisure sector has a vital role to play in fighting this health crisis, and its  role will become even more important over the coming weeks and months.”