The gym is a place where you go to get fit and healthy, but could it actually be damaging your health? Any environment with a lot of people moving in and out all the time is likely to be a hotbed for bacteria, but gyms are particularly bad. If people do not follow proper hygiene practices when using equipment, then you can easily pick up an illness from using that equipment after them. The changing rooms can be quite unsanitary too.
This is always a concern for gym-goers but it’s particularly dangerous at the moment when getting back into the gym after COVID-19. The good news is, there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself so you stay healthy when in the gym. Let’s look at 3 of the most common germs you will come into contact with in the gym and how you can avoid getting sick.
Common Gym Germ #1 Staphylococcus Infections
Staphylococcus bacteria is found on the skin and in the nose of most people, even those that are perfectly healthy. In small amounts, they are harmless and won’t cause any problems. However, high levels of this type of bacteria can cause skin infections. In a gym when people are sweating and breathing heavily, staph bacteria is a big problem.
Gyms have a policy in place to make sure that people wipe down equipment, but some people ignore it. Even if they do wipe it down, a quick once over with a towel is not enough. If you want to stay safe, get some antibacterial cup holder wipes that you can easily store in your car. Take them to the gym and wipe equipment down before using it. It’s also a good idea to cover any open cuts with a plaster because this can increase the risk of infection too.
Common Gym Germ #2 Fungal Infections
Fungal infections like athlete’s foot are caused by bacteria that love moist environments. If you are exercising and sweating a lot, you create the perfect environment for these bacteria to thrive. So, as soon as you finish, you should get changed out of your sweaty clothes and shoes as soon as possible. Moisture wicking materials are great for tackling this problem too, so invest in some good quality gym clothing too. You may also want to consider taking a pair of flip-flops to the gym so when you are walking around the changing rooms and showers, you are not in direct contact with the wet floor.
Common Gym Germ #3 Viruses
There are a number of viruses you can pick up at the gym. Plantar warts that develop on the heels can be picked up by walking around on bacteria-ridden surfaces. Again, using some spare footwear in changing rooms can help with this. You can also pick up something called mat herpes from exercise mats. This one is common in people that play contact sports but can be contracted in the gym too. It happens because people wipe down equipment but they forget about the mats. So, use the same precautions you would with weights or machines when using a mat and wipe them down with your antibacterial wipes.
If you want to work out safely at the gym without getting sick, make sure that you follow these simple safety precautions.
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