Should gyms open before parks?


Audrey Lippert

Oppenlander Fields, a West Linn park, remains shutdown due to COVID-19.

It has been over three months since the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown and as we enter phase one of reopening, some businesses are opening their doors for the first time in months. Some of these businesses include gyms and workout centers, but the question arises of should indoor workout places reopen before fields and other public outdoor spaces?

 A study published earlier this year by researchers for the National Library of Medicine found that influenza was detected on 25% of surfaces tested in two college and two high school athletic training facilities. People working out and sweating in an enclosed space makes it easy for diseases to spread, according to an article published in The New York Times earlier this month. 

As gyms open, many public parks such as Oppenlander Fields remain pad-locked shut. Why are parks staying closed– places where people don’t share equipment and it’s easier to socially distance– while enclosed spaces with a reputation for quickly spreading viruses are staying open? 

At an outdoor park, it is much less likely that you would be touching a surface someone who may have had COVID-19 has touched as long as playgrounds stay closed. Parks are also not only great places to work out but also to entertain children, who can run and play in an open field. 

“‘Stay away,’ particularly if you are over 60, immunocompromised, or have chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure,” an article from The Washington Post says. All of the people listed above would be able to safely exercise in a park. They could easily stay six feet away from other people in a wide open field such as Oppenlander. 

Parks are also open to anyone who wants to go. They are free and a great place to walk, run, bike and play sports. Gyms must be paid for, are proven to spread diseases quickly, and are typically targeted at adults. Fields and parks should be open before gyms. They are a much safer place to exercise and can be used by everybody, not just a select few.