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Japan supercomputer shows humidity affects aerosol spread of coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: computer image created by Nexu Science Communication together with Trinity College in Dublin, shows a model structurally representative of a betacoronavirus which is the type of virus linked to COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus linked to the Wuhan outbreak, shared with Reuters on February 18, 2020. NEXU Science Communication/via REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) – A Japanese supercomputer showed that humidity can have a large effect on the dispersion of virus particles, pointing to heightened coronavirus contagion risks in dry, indoor conditions during the winter months.

The finding suggests that the use of humidifiers may help limit infections during times when window ventilation is not possible, according to a study released on Tuesday by research giant Riken and Kobe University.

The researchers used the Fugaku supercomputer to model the emission and flow of virus-like particles from infected people in a variety of indoor environments.

Air humidity of lower than 30% resulted in more than double the amount of aerosolised particles compared to levels of 60% or higher, the simulations showed.

The study also indicated that clear face shields are not as effective as masks in preventing the spread of aerosols. Other findings showed that diners are more at risk from people to their side compared to across the table, and the number of singers in choruses should be limited and spaced out.

The research team led by Makoto Tsubokura has previously used the Fugaku supercomputer to model contagion conditions in trains, work spaces, and class rooms.

Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Michael Perry

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How Voting Affects Fitness For You & Your Community, According To Instructors

With the 2020 elections just on the other side of this month, voting is top of mind for a lot of people. There’s a lot at stake in this election, and if you’re turning to fitness to sweat the stress away, you’re probably not the only one. But fitness and voting have even more to do with each other than you’d think.

Your access to workout spaces — whether that’s a local park with a track or a boutique studio — is fundamentally shaped by voting, says Nicole Cardoza, a yoga instructor and founder of Yoga Foster and the newsletter Anti-Racism Daily. “There are systemic issues perpetuated in the studios we hold dear and in the spaces that we occupy when we’re trying to be well,” Cardoza says. “So when we want to feel well in studios, it’s really about looking at that overarching system of racism and dismantling it. A lot of that, especially in the next few weeks, comes down to the actions we take at our polls.”

How Do Politics Shape Fitness Culture?

Pretty much everything about your gym or fitness studio is shaped by who’s in office in your area, Cardoza explains, pointing in particular to access to public transportation, instructor pay, and basic neighborhood safety where studios are located.

T’Nisha Symone, founder of luxury fitness club BLAQUE, tells Bustle that zoning laws have a lot to do with the presence — or lack thereof — of accessible fitness spaces in Black and brown neighborhoods. “State and local governments decide how neighborhoods are constructed and as a result, what kind of fitness and wellness behaviors the people in these communities will have access to,” she explains. “Whether or not these resources are available is something that can and should inform our voting behaviors at the local level.”

Access to fitness resources has to do with both private and public interests. A 2019 analysis conducted by Bloomberg found that franchises like CrossFit, Barry’s Boot Camp, and Pure Barre are usually located in neighborhoods that are over 80% white. Of the other 13 fitness franchises included in the analysis, 12 were also located in areas with an average of 70-80% white people. The data also revealed that clubs like Equinox and SoulCycle are often located in gentrifying neighborhoods, drawing in more affluent and white clientele rather than serving the often BIPOC, low-income communities that have been living there.

“Wellness is political,” says Helen Phelan, a Pilates instructor who specializes in body neutrality and mindfulness. “To serve only one type of person is political. To avoid making a statement or ‘getting political’ is a privilege and a political statement all in itself.”

What people learn, say, and even wear in studios is also political. “If you say ‘namaste’ at the end of your practice or wear Mala beads, you need to be standing up for racial injustice,” says Ali Duncan, a yoga instructor and the founder of Urban Sanctuary, the first women-run, Black-owned yoga studio in Denver, Colorado. “So

Will gyms close again? How Boris Johnson’s announcement affects fitness centres in the UK

Gyms were reopened on 25 July to the delight of fitness fans across England, but a surge in new coronavirus cases means this could change.

In response to the spike in infection rates, Boris Johnson has introduced a series of new restrictions in highly affected areas.

This afternoon, the Prime Minster addressed the House of Commons on new measures aimed at curbing the coronavirus.

In high risk or tier three areas, gyms are likely to close, but more detail specific to particular regions is expected to follow later.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Will gyms close again?

A member of staff measures the temperature of a visitor before entering the gym at Nuffield Health Sunbury Fitness and Wellbeing Gym (Photo: AFP)

In “very high” or tier three regions, gyms may well close.

New measures announced for Liverpool, which will take effect from Wednesday, will see further restrictions on the “hospitality, leisure, entertainment and personal care [such as hair salons and barbers] sector”, said Mr Johnson.

The Prime Minister said discussions with local leaders in high infection areas, such as the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber, were “ongoing”, but urged them to “work with us on these difficult but necessary measures”.

What rules are in place in gyms?

A fitness instructor cleans down gym machines at the North Tyneside Council Waves Gym and Swimming Centre in Whitley Bay North Tyneside (Photo: PA)

Gyms are required to comply with strict social distancing guidelines.

Restrictions include a limit on the number of people using the facility at any one time, reduced class sizes, timed booking systems, enhanced cleaning procedures, the spacing out of equipment and ensuring adequate ventilation.

Users are also asked to change and shower at home, rather than in the gym.

Some gyms are also measuring the temperature of visitors before entry.

In Scotland, indoor group exercise activities are currently prohibited, although gyms remain open for individual exercise.

Do I need to wear a face mask in the gym?

A man wearing a face mask exercises at a fitness centre in Mexico City (Photo: Reuters)

Current Government guidance states that face masks are not mandatory in gyms, although individual establishments may enforce their own rules.

The World Health Organisation does not recommend that people wear face masks while exercising as this may affect a person’s ability to breathe comfortable.

“Sweat can make the mask become wet more quickly which makes it difficult to breathe and promotes the growth of microorganisms,” it states.

“The important preventive measure during exercise is to maintain physical distance of at least one metre from others.”

What is the industry saying?

UK Active, a not-for-profit collective of members across the UK physical activity and fitness sector, has called on the Government to categorise gyms as essential services.

Huw Edwards, UK Active’s chief executive, said: “We are calling for