This doesn't mean you should stop going to the gym—the benefits far outweigh the risks. With the right awareness and precautions, you can still get your sweat on without bringing home any unwelcome companions. The first step to avoiding gym germs is knowing where they live. Below are some of their favorite health club hangouts, along with precautions you can take to protect yourself.
Hotspot #1: Water Fountains
While the spout and water itself
The safest way to hydrate is to bring your own water bottle. If you must use the fountain, follow these precautions: Turn it on for a few seconds before drinking from it, don't let your mouth come in direct contact with the spigot, touch only the handle and wash your hands afterward.
Hotspot #2: Locker Rooms and Showers
Germs thrive in wet, humid areas--putting locker rooms and showers right in the danger zone. The biggest threat is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacterium that can cause skin infections. Showers can also pass
The best way to stay safe is to shower at home—but if you must lather up in the locker room, wear flip-flops to avoid coming in direct contact with
Hotspot #3: Yoga Mats
Next time you're doing crunches or settling into your favorite stretch, consider that your exercise mat most likely absorbed the sweat and germs of whoever last sweated
Hotspot #4: Cardio Machines
Hotspot #5: Weight Machines & Free Weights
As people do full-body exercises with shared weight machines, there's a bigger chance of spreading
Hotspot #6: Gym Bags
In addition to clothes and gear, your gym bag could pick up some unwelcome passengers—like E.
Hotspot #7: Towels
Even if the gym's towels have been washed, they could have picked up bacteria or viruses from baskets, benches or lockers. To stay clean, dry and
Quick Tips for
- Before choosing a new gym, take a tour and check to make sure it's clean and well-ventilated. Ask about the gym's policies for day-to-day cleaning of equipment and machines.
- Keep any cuts covered with a moisture-resistant bandage during workouts. Most infections enter the skin through lacerations.
- Bring your own water bottle, mat, towels, boxing gloves and toiletries.
- Wipe down all cardio and weight machines with sanitizing spray before and after using.
- Wear flip-flops in the shower and locker room.
- Wear a towel when sitting in the steam room or sauna.
- Even if you plan to shower at home, wash your hands before leaving the gym.
- Store sweaty workout clothes separately from other items.
- Spray your gym bag with sanitizing spray and wipe it down after each use.
- If you notice any skin irritations, such as a rash or
red, painful area, contact a doctor to check for possible infection.