Sports and Exercise

COVID-19 is transmitted through respiratory droplets from the nose and mouth. Environments where people are breathing hard without masks, such as gyms, sports practices and games, fitness studios, and group exercise classes may pose a higher risk for virus transmission to occur.

Consider your COVID-19 Community Level when deciding whether to participate and to help determine what prevention strategies to take.

Key COVID-19 Prevention Strategies:

Vaccination. Getting vaccinated reduces your risk of becoming severely ill, needing to be hospitalized, or dying from COVID-19. It protects people around you who cannot get vaccinated and helps reduce the spread of COVID-19 in your community. Anyone 6 months and older can get vaccinated for COVID-19. 

Staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccines is the best way to protect yourself from getting or spreading COVID-19 while participating in exercise or sports activities. If you are not yet vaccinated or not up to date, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov, visit your local pharmacy, or make an appointment with your doctor to schedule your COVID-19 vaccine. 

Ventilation. Improving the ventilation of an exercise facility is critical in decreasing transmission in indoor environments. Exercising outdoors is generally safer than indoors. Managers of exercise facilities should consult VDH ventilation best practices guidance. Additionally, CDC and EPA provide recommendations for ventilation in buildings.

Masks. Anyone aged 2 years and older is encouraged to wear a mask while indoors in public spaces when the COVID-19 Community Level is high. Visit VDH’s mask page for more information.

Masks should not be worn during activities where they might become a choking hazard or inadvertently impair vision. For example, masks should not be worn during activities such as cheerleading (tumbling/stunts), gymnastics, wrestling, swimming, or water sports.  

Remain at home and get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms. Use the VDH Isolation and Quarantine Calculator to determine when to return to practice or when to leave home following a positive COVID-19 diagnosis/test or a recent exposure to someone with COVID-19. Participants who have recovered from COVID-19 infection should resume activities gradually. Participants should not return until they meet VDH’s criteria for leaving isolation. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides additional guidance for children and adolescents who plan to resume sports after recovering from COVID-19 infection, including symptoms to monitor. Individuals who had a severe or moderate COVID-19 infection should consult their primary care provider before resuming sports activities. 

Additional considerations. People involved in recreational sports should consider their household’s level of risk when determining whether to participate in recreational sports. Factors that place people (including household members) at higher risk of adverse outcomes from COVID-19 include older age, not being vaccinated, and certain medical conditions. If you are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities such as sports when your COVID-19 Community Level is high. 

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Page Last updated: July 28, 2022