Protect Your Health by Avoiding Unsanitariness at the Gym
If you’re attending the gym regularly, there could be more to worry about than getting rid of those flabby arms. Your good intentions of getting into shape could be overshadowed by bacteria. Here’s a list of places to keep an eye out for at the gym. Take these tips to heart so you can beat those sneaky microbes and guarantee those muscle gains are the only things you take home with you.
Free weights, weight machines and exercise balls can be some of the most germ-riddled objects at the gym. The amount of people who handle these objects is high and the likelihood that they get wiped clean is slim. According to a study conducted by the University of California-Irvine, germs from gyms can survive up to 72 hours on exercise equipment.
The solution? Wipe off all exercise equipment before and after either you or the person before you have used them. Use paper towels and disinfectant spray that most gyms provide. If your gym doesn’t have any spray, carry antibacterial gel and rub some into your hands before and after a workout
A humid locker room with patrons coming in and out is a great environment for germs such as staph and strep to reside and multiply in. Dirty shoes can bring in outside microbes that can cause stomach flus and Hepatitis A. Even harmless areas of a locker room such as benches and door handles can be full of germs.
The key to preventing infections is to always wear flip-flops while in a locker room and shower as walking barefoot can expose you to fungal bacteria on the ground. Also, avoid sitting on benches while unclothed. Direct skin contact with an area littered with microorganisms can lead to an infectious breakout, or worse, a staph infection. Be sure to wash your hands before leaving a gym. These simple tips can prevent you from suffering serious illnesses that could place your health in jeopardy
Stretching in Unclean Areas
That yoga mat you use while at the gym could be loaded with microorganisms that can cause skin infections, athlete’s foot or even the common cold. Everyone uses them, meaning that everyone could potentially be spreading his or her germs.
Bring your own stretch mat and do not share it. After each use, wipe it down with a bleach-based wipe. A 60%-based alcohol disinfectant spray will also work, but be sure to let the mat air-dry before rolling it up.
Don’t Go Uncovered
If you have any open cuts or wounds on your body, cover them up. This will prevent most bacteria from making contact with the area. This also prevents others from getting sick from your open wounds. As rare as staph or MRSA are, they can be quite life threatening. Both have to enter through the skin, so the best way to protect yourself is to cover any cuts or calluses on your palms as this is the part of the body where these types of wounds are most likely to be found.
Gym bags can be loaded with sickness-causing germs. While most of these could be your own, your backpack could get someone else sick. Charles Gerba, an environmental microbiologist at the University of Arizona, says, “Staph, salmonella, E. coli and pseudomonas are the most common germs found in your workout bag.” Sweaty socks and damp towels can also be breeding grounds for bacteria.
Unpack Those Germs
Associate dean and renowned Columbia University epidemiology researcher Elaine Larson recommends that when looking for a gym bag, decide on one either made of plastic or vinyl. There is also an antimicrobial bag on the market that resists the formation of bacterial odors. Other backpacks are now including ventilated compartments. Those materials are less likely to have germs reside on. Keep dirty clothes and tennis shoes in a separate plastic bag.
After getting home from the gym, clean your bag inside and out with a disinfectant spray or wipe it down with disinfectant. If your gym bag is made of cloth or canvas, toss it into your washing machine at least once a week. Use hot water and a bleach or peroxide-based detergent and allow it to dry for 45 minutes.
Swimming with Bacteria
You may be thinking that the swimming pool at your gym is as clean as can be, but this may not be the case. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 62% of pool-related bacterial outbreaks are caused by chlorine-resistant pathogens, which are spread by fecal matter. These same bacteria can also cause ear and eye infections.
Most, if not all, gyms post results of pH tests and when its pool has been cleaned for members to view. If you don’t see any data, let your nose be your guide. The stronger the smell of chlorine, the dirtier the pool is. The smell of chlorine will become stronger as it reacts with microorganisms. Goggles, a swim cap and earplugs are also recommended in gym pools.
Another thing, like swimming pools, a gym’s showers can be a petri dish of bacteria. Athlete’s foot, ringworm and wart-causing bacteria are all commonly found in shower stalls, making the issue of sanitation very important when cleaning yourself up after a workout.
Instead of showering at the gym, try waiting until you get home, but jump in as soon as you step foot inside the door. The longer you hang out in your sweaty clothes, the bigger the risk of your skin showing the signs of bacterial infestation.
If you have to shower at the gym, use antimicrobial soap. Do not use communal bars of soap. Practice good foot hygiene and invest in a pair of flip-flops. Also, avoid shaving at the gym since bacteria can enter your body through tiny cuts on your freshly-shaven face.
Educate and Get Yourself Healthy
Remember, getting healthy is the first step in the right direction. The next step is contacting one of our offices and inquiring about a health insurance policy that’s right for you. Following these steps will not get you into great shape, but they will ensure that you stay healthy in order to be your best at the gym.
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