People have gotten more health conscious these days than ever before. Apart from a healthy diet, maintaining an active lifestyle is the common trend. And speaking of being active, more and more people choose to go to the gym to strengthen their muscles and boost their immunity.
But just like other public places, gyms are germ hotspots too. In case you didn’t know, the typical free weights have 362 times more bacteria than a toilet seat! And the treadmill you’re running on? It has 74 times more bacteria than a typical public bathroom faucet.
That’s pretty gross, isn’t it?
Even worse, 70% of the bacteria found on the study were potentially harmful to humans. These include gram-positive cocci – the most common cause of skin infections and septicemia (blood poisoning), and gram-negative rods which can cause respiratory diseases.
It really is not surprising. With the number of people going in and out of the gym, the spread of viruses is inevitable. Apart from the coughs, sneezes and unwashed hands, germs also thrive in the human sweat that gets left on the towels and gym equipment, as well as moist areas like showers, swimming pool decks, and saunas.
Apart from a slimmer body, you might unfortunately be getting a host of skin problems, such as:
Athlete's Foot and Jock Itch are two of the most common infections caused by a group of fungi that grow in warm, moist areas, including sweaty workout clothes, yoga mats, damp towels, and wet floors. The infection starts as a red rash that often itches like crazy. It can also peel and blister, and appear scaly.
This is a highly contagious skin infection caused by staph or strep bacteria which can penetrate your body through a break in the skin, such as a cut or insect bite. In gyms, it can pass on from one person to another through contaminated towels and sports equipment.
You can get infected by the dreaded human papillomavirus (HPV) in the gym too. If you love going barefoot in the locker room or showers, you could be at risk of plantar warts. It’s characterized by a calluslike spot on the bottom of your foot which may be painful to walk on.
You need not cancel your gym membership just so you can stay away from the dreaded viruses and bacteria. There are simple things you can do to avoid getting sick at the gym. Of course, the best form of treatment is prevention. Follow these practical tips to avoid getting skin infections at your health club:
A clean and sanitized environment should be one of your major considerations when selecting a gym. As a customer, it is your right to exercise in a well-maintained gym. Ask the management about the facility’s cleaning routine. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires health clubs and similar establishments to clean gyms and locker rooms at least daily, using disinfectants and detergents. See whether medical grade wipes or sprays are readily available so that you and other exercises can clean the equipment before and after use.Safeguard your skin.
If you have cuts or bruises, keep them covered with a clean bandage throughout your workout session. Avoid walking barefoot, especially in showers and locker rooms. Bring flipflops for your convenience.
You can avoid contracting viral and fungal infections by making use of your own workout/yoga mat. You can’t be sure whether those mats available in the gym are cleaned after each class. Better be safe and bring your own.
The eyes and mouth are common entry points of bacteria. Try to keep your hands from your face. Make sure you have a clean towel to wipe off sweat. Also, practice proper hygiene. Always wash your hands before and after using exercise equipment. A hand sanitizer comes handy too.
Disinfecting wipes are a must-have when going to the gym or any public place as they make it so convenient to get rid of germs. Wipe down handles and surfaces where your skin will make possible contact, such as a fitness bench.Going to the gym is supposed to make you healthier, not the other way around. Sweaty equipment, damp towels, and moist floors are what bacteria, fungi and viruses love the most. However, by following the above tips, you can go a long way towards protecting yourself from potentially serious infections brought about by these gym beasts.