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Retained by the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), the Oregon Consulting Group out of the University of Oregon analyzed data related to gym attendance and COVID-19 rates in Colorado with the goal of determining whether or not gyms are accurately portrayed as a source of COVID-19 transmission. The study concluded that no correlation exists between gym attendance and increased COVID-19 rates in the state.

To reach this conclusion, researchers used proprietary non-unique check-in data from close to 100 fitness facilities in Coorado from March 6 to October 15. Fitness centers participating in this study included ABC Fitness Solutions, 24-Hour Fitness, and Mindbody. This data was then compared to COVID-19 rates, adjusted to reflect the onset of the illness and not the date the illness was reported.

The study also took into consideration how changes in testing rates and testing accuracy could have impacted findings. In order to do this, a second date range was considered, which was shortened to start on May 16. A look into this data actually showed a negative correlation between gym attendance and COVID-19 positivity rates. That being said, it was concluded that this negative correlation was likely due to stricter safety guidelines, mask-wearing, capacity limitations, and other outside factors – not gym attendance.

In charts published with the study, it is shown that while gym attendance has remained relatively consistent in most recent months through October, COVID-19 cases have continued to fluctuate and spike.

Those conducting the analysis preliminarily concluded that gyms may not be correlated to an increase in COVID-19 cases due to high ceilings, wide floor plans, and good ventilation, amid other COVID-19 safety measures that have been put in place. The researchers also suggest that legislators should acknowledge the inherent differences between gyms and other types of establishments, such as restaurants and bars, when making future rules and restrictions meant to slow the spread of COVID-19.

As aforementioned, it is important to note that the decision to look into this data was driven by an organization with a vested interest in the findings. However, it should also be noted that ‘Oregon Consulting Group,” the organization that actually conducted the study, can be described as a student-run consulting group that operates out of the business school at the University of Oregon.

This content was originally published here.