Going to the gym can result in excellent health and fitness. However, gyms often host very active germ activity. From fungi in the shower to germ-ridden sweat remnants, the gym is far from clean. Fortunately, being aware of germ hotspots throughout the gym can prepare you to avoid potential illness.
Here are some tips on avoiding germs at the gym, as well as not leaving germs behind to inflict others.
Clean the Equipment
Gym equipment, like treadmills and weights, can be a hotbed for germ activity. Sweat is flying on equipment, in addition to frequent touching with hands. As a result, remember to wipe down machines, weights and other gym equipment, both before and after you use them. Additionally, make sure to wipe down your personal items, like your phone, headphones and water bottles. Your personal items can become germ-infested as well if you leave them in the vicinity.
On the topic of water bottles, make sure always to bring your own. A water fountain is among the most germ-infested locations in the gym, with people routinely putting their lips and saliva close to the water fountain.
Use Your Own Towels
Better to be safe than sorry. As convenient as it may be to use towels at the gym, there’s no telling how thoroughly they undergo washing or the towels’ history of use. It’s especially important to not share towels with other gym-goers. Bring your own towel, and designate one side for machines and the other side for your face. Leave the towel in a clean place, avoiding dirty areas like the floor, locker room bench or water fountain.
In general, bringing your own stuff is always the optimal route for avoiding germs. For example, if you love yoga, it’s safer to invest in and bring your own mat.
Opt for Showering at Home
You may also want to wait to shower until you get home. Although it may feel more convenient to shower at the gym and go home feeling clean, the shower is typically one of the most germ-infested places in a gym. Shower stall floors host fungus, which can enter your body through tiny cuts in your skin and cause infections like athlete’s foot. If you take a shower at the gym, wear flip-flops to help prevent fungal infections. Also, avoid sitting on locker room benches, which are also sources of bacteria and germs.
Some particularly uncared-for gyms may even have mold in the showers. Mold arises from poor ventilation, humidity, wet surfaces and dust buildup. If you see mold, inform the gym immediately and do not return until the mold is clean. In general, if a gym allows mold growth, you may want to find another place to work out. When searching for another gym in the future, ask about their cleaning practices and routine before signing up.
Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard
Wake up feeling under the weather? As much as you may want to go to the gym, it’s essential to stay home if you feel like you might be coming down with something. Even if it’s just a slight cold, your body’s immune system may be lower as a result, opening up the risk to contract illness from germs at the gym. The gym will still be there on another day, when your body is more up for the challenge. Pushing too hard may result in muscle loss and exposure to germs.
Cover Any Cuts
Even if it’s just a papercut or a hangnail, it’s essential to put a bandage on any cut before heading to the gym. Cuts in your skin can provide an entryway to bacteria and disease. Plus, the prospect of leaving blood on exercise equipment should be enough to deter anyone from going to the gym with an open cut or sore.
Although gyms are rampant with germs, gym-goers can exercise the precautions above to ensure they are not especially prone to germs and illness while working out.