Belgian gyms call for reopening to help battle against virus
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Belgian gyms call for reopening to help battle against virus

Credit: Belga

A campaign launched by Belgian gyms to reopen their doors highlights the paradox of keeping sporting facilities closed whilst figures have shown that the new coronavirus (Covid-19) poses a bigger threat to obese and overweight people.

Highlighting the social role fitness clubs play in battling this pandemic, the sector’s course of action, lead by fitness.be, argues that ‘it is not right’ that the government is vaccinating over-45s who are overweight earlier, but at the same time is keeping all fitness centers closed.

Guy T’Sjoen, doctor and professor at Ghent University Hospital, is one of the many people who have backed the campaign and endorses the message that exercise is important in building immunity.

“Everyone is at risk of contracting corona, no one is free from it, including slimmer people, but it has been proven, and we hear this from our colleagues, that a lot of overweight and obese people are admitted with severe corona infection,” he told De Standaard.

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Additionally, half of all Belgians are overweight, and 16% are obese, T’Sjoen highlighted, emphasising there is a lot of work to be done.

“If we want to do something about our immunity and improve it, people who are overweight should look at losing 5% of their weight. If you can lose 5% of your weight in the next 10 weeks, then you are going to improve your immunity enormously,” he explained.

This is where fitness.be points out the paradox. “Where can people exercise today?”, asked general manager Eric Vandenabeele. An increasing number of people have given up doing fitness exercises at home, and there has still been no notice from the Belgian government on when gyms could reopen.

However, fitness.be recognises the potential risk of opening these centres again, as Vandenabeele explained he wants to tighten the protocols for reopening, saying gyms should consider installing further ventilation and decrease capacity.

Lauren Walker
The Brussels Times