Stay Germ-Free at the Gym

gym

Gyms can be a hotbed for gems, especially when they’re frequented by an even bigger crowd of everyone who resolved 2013 will be the year they get fit. A survey run by Nuffield Health in Britain found that a high percentage of the 2,000 people included in their sample, admitted to poor hygiene at the gym. 49% of gym goers have used items that were not theirs, including toiletries, towels or water bottles. 18% went to the gym, even when sick, and 16% do not wash their gym clothes with every wear. Partially because of these findings, gyms can create opportunities for exposure to viruses, fungal infections like athlete’s foot, or staph infection. Donna Duberg, an assistant professor of Clinical Laboratory Science at Saint Louis University recommends ways to minimize your risk, most importantly, by protecting you hands and face from germs.

  • Use a Metal Water Bottle: Plastic bottles can hang onto bacteria more than metal water bottles, which as easily cleansed in hot, soapy water. Be sure not to share, or let a stranger take a sip.
  • Wipe Equipment and Wash Your Hands: Wipe machines before and after you use them, and wash your hands using soap and water or sanitizer every time you touch a new machine or weight.
  • Keep your Gym Bag Clean: Place used gym clothes into a plastic bag before putting them in your duffel, and when you get home empty them straight into the washer. The same goes for your sneakers. Keep them enclosed in plastic in transit, and then wipe them down with a disinfecting wipe after each use.
  • Always Wear Sandals in the Showers: When using public showers, you need a shoe to act as a barrier between fungal spores and your skin.  Clean your flip flops with a 10% bleach solution periodically to ensure that they are not absorbing unwanted fungus.
  • Rest When You’re Sick: If you do not appreciate it when others sneeze on the machines, they will not like it when you do it. Take a break from your regular workouts if your nose is running, or if you have an open sore that might be more easily prone to infection.
  • Do Not Go In Pools or Hot Tubs when Sick or Injured: If you have cuts, blisters, or another infection, stay out of the Jacuzzi. You will contaminate the water with bacteria, and could become exposed to any that is already there.

Source courtesy of Women’s Health Magazine Blog. Image courtesy of Prestige Fitness.

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