Everyone goes to the gym in order to stay fit and healthy, but few people know that their gym could actually be making them sick. Gyms are germ infested places, but this doesn't mean that there aren't things that can be done to reduce the risk of getting sick while pumping some iron.
Here is a list of several common, albeit very yucky, germs found in gyms:
While it's impossible to avoid every germ, there are some simple things that can be done to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill.
1. Check out the gym before joining
When going to sign up, look around. Is it clean or does it seem a little dirty? Does it smell musty? Simply being observant can tell a lot about how the facilities are kept, and in turn a lot of about the likelihood of germs lurking on surfaces.
2. Clean machines
Most gyms offer (and if they don't they should) cleaner and towels to use between members. This is so that no one has to sit or lie on anyone else's bodily fluids, namely sweat. Be sure to use it each and every time when switching machines.
Ok this is sort of a no brainer, but showering helps remove germs from the surface of the body, making it harder for those germs to find a place to enter the body, so the sooner the shower occurs after the workout, the better. Plus who wants to walk around sweaty all day?
4. Don't go barefoot
While this isn't much of an issue on the gym floor, in locker rooms, steam rooms and near pools it can add up to a case of foot fungus at the very least. So it's always best to have some type of footwear on at all times.
5. Cover cuts
Not only do open wounds and sores allow the person with the sore to spread germs, they also allow new germs to enter the body which could mean big trouble. So keep even small cuts and scrapes covered, even if it's just while working out.
6. Don't share gear
While we all learned about sharing in kindergarten, when it comes to gym equipment such as towels or mats, it's best not to. This avoids the possibility of becoming infected from someone else's germs.
7. Keep dirty and clean items separate
This is easier said than done when in a rush to leave the gym to get to work or to some other important event. But keeping dirty sweaty items such as clothes, towels and even shoes separated from clean items in one's bag or locker, can reduce the chances of being exposed to bacteria that may have been picked up.
8. Keep covered up
While it's cool that some people are comfortable in their own skin and don't mind running around the locker room in the buff, it can leave a person vulnerable to infection from surfaces like benches. Simply sitting on a contaminated bench can lead to a case of jock itch or a vaginal yeast infection, so it's best to stay covered up.
9. BYO Water
While most gyms offer water fountains or coolers for their members, numerous studies have confirmed that these places are breeding grounds for bacteria. So it is a better idea to bring water from home in a clean container, or grab a fresh bottle at the store before hitting the gym.
10. Don't touch your face with dirty hands
Most people's hands sweat when they work out and they don't even notice. They will then touch one of the machines or the floor or some other surface, picking up bacteria in the process. By avoiding touching one's face, it reduces the risk of allowing germs to enter the body through the mucus membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth, the most common places for infections to get in.
Going to the gym is good for the body, the mind and the spirit, but all the germs found there can be dangerous. By following these tips, people can reap the benefits without the all the risk.