You regularly go to the gym to stay fit and healthy. But as it turns out, you may be getting more than strong arms and flat abs from the place. A hotbed of germ activity, your gym be causing you sickness, too!
While most gym goers will wipe gym equipment and machinery after using them, those aren’t the only places germs lurk. From weight machines, exercise mats, and free weights to gym bags, towels and lockers, gyms are full of hot spots teeming with bacteria and germs.
So the next time you hit the gym, make sure to follow these tips to reduce your risk of picking up nasty germs during your visit.
Bring Your Own Mat
Because so many sweaty people have used them, exercise mats are often rife with viruses and microscopic bugs. So as you stretch, crunch, or strike a yoga pose, you could be lying in a slew of germs that can cause colds and flu, athlete’s foot, skin infections, and even hepatitis A.
Germ Warfare: Bring your own workout mat and clean it after each use to ensure you’re not sharing microbes with anyone.
Wear Your Own Slippers in the Shower
Shower stalls in gyms are germ central, especially the floors. If you are standing barefoot, you could get fungus and then end up with an athlete’s foot or another kind of infection if you have even the smallest open wound.
Germ Warfare: Don’t step on the gym floors without protection. Wear flip-flops when taking a shower or when you’re in the sauna or change room so your feet are never in direct contact with the germ-filled floors.
Use a Plastic or Vinyl Gym Bag
Disease-causing bacteria, such as E. coli, salmonella, and pseudomonas, can easily latch on to your gym bag when you place it on a bench, on the floor, or in the locker, most especially if it’s made of fabric.
Germ Warfare: Stick to vinyl or plastic gym bags as they are less likely to catch germs and bacteria than ones made from porous materials, like cotton. Also, you want to keep your sneakers, damp towels, and dirty clothes in a zip-lock bag to minimise the chances of germ proliferation and contamination.
Keep Your Distance
Group fitness classes, especially the crowded ones, make it easy to breathe in germs, such as influenza.
Germ Warfare: Because viruses are likely contagious, make sure to keep a reasonable distance from anyone with a cold or a cough. You may also consider getting a flu shot as a first line of defense.
Drink from a Reusable Bottle
As disgusting as it sounds, seeing a fellow gym goer spit in the communal water fountain is not unusual. And it’s nasty habits like this that can cause a spread of intestinal viruses.
Germ Warfare: While you can’t always help other people’s unethical actions, you can shield yourself from harmful viruses by bringing your own water instead of having to use the public fountain.
Now that you know where else germs lurk, go forth and conquer the gym–just make sure to disinfect afterwards.
Image courtesy of Dreamstime