Whether you’re a beginner or already a gym addict, you definitely need to know about the dark, dirty side of your favorite fitness center.
We aren’t trying to discourage you from sweating your daily stress off and maintaining good health and better body, but there are some germ-filled surfaces you should stop touching (and probably make extra sanitizing efforts) if you don’t want to end up with a nasty health problem.
Although gym staff does its best to keep the space as clean as possible, bacteria and germs will still be an inevitable part of each and every gym. Just keep in mind that exercising on a regular basis does much more good than harm.
Plus, good hygiene habits can easily minimize your chances of getting sick from germs at your gym.
The Swimming Pool
If you think that the pool you enjoy
A clean pool normally doesn’t smell like anything at all. According to the CDC, nearly 60 percent of the tested pool filter samples included E. coli bacteria, which is a huge indicator that the water is contaminated with feces.
Moreover, the same study revealed that 50 percent of all public pools are actually violating health regulations and about 11 percent should close their doors for people right now. To avoid contamination, make sure to never take a dip without showering, both before and after.
Your Gym Bag
You might be thinking ‘well, it’s my bag and it contains my own sweat and germs, so it’s just fine’ while, in fact, it’s totally not. Your gym bag doesn’t only welcome your sweaty clothes after every exercise session but also all the bacteria you came in contact with while working out; touching machines and brushing up against several germ-loaded surfaces.
You should wash your clothes as soon as you get home from the gym and don’t forget to launder your bag as well at least once per week.
Stretching is extremely important, but you may want to skip doing it on the mats at your gym. The dangerous part about communal mats is that they can transfer various health issues, such as warts, staph infections, and even cases of diarrhea.
The Associate Director of Athletics for Sports Medicine at Lehigh University, Jack Foley, explains that individuals in gyms have higher chances to get a bacterial infection, like staph, if they came in skin-to-skin contact with someone who is infected or by touching constantly used things, such as weight or cardio equipment, mats, mirrors, walls, countertops, and benches, especially in case they have an abrasion, scrape, or cut on their skin.
The primary reason why you can get infected is poor day-to-day facility and personal hygiene. In fact, sometimes, even if you use your towel as a barrier between your skin and germs, it still won’t be enough, particularly if you used the mat-touching side to wipe your body down later on.
You should make sure that the mats at your gym are often disinfected. When in doubt, your best bet is to bring your own mat.
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, conducted a study on the presence of the bacteria that cause staph infections (called Staphylococcus aureus) on volleyballs and basketballs. The results of the study showed that the bacteria are able to survive for as much as 72 hours on the surface of a basket- or volleyball.
Admittedly, the quantity of disgusting stuff that can make you sick and which is living on your favorite ball depends on how often the ball is disinfected. This doesn’t mean that you should stop playing though!
But it’s really important to be aware of what kind of germs and how long they can stick around on the things you frequently touch at the gym. Wash your hands as much as needed and use disinfecting wipes to wipe down the ball before playing.
Weight Equipment & Cardio Machines
While we exercise for the sake of better health and wellness, it’s only controversial (and also a bit ironic) to get sick from your gym or exercise facility. Can you tell how often or how well weight equipment and cardio machines at the gym are cleaned? Obviously, it’s impossibly difficult to know.
According to experts, viruses, bacteria, and fungi commonly thrive in damp, moist areas like spa decks, showers, and also sweat that’s left to dry on equipment. These areas are ideal breeding grounds for transmission of infections. So, use your antibacterial wipes (or a spray bottle and paper towels) to disinfect any equipment before use.
Your Water Bottle
Staying hydrated is crucial for our health as well as for better results when we’re working out. However, beware of the source of your water, for instance, if you are re-filling your water bottle from a sink or water fountain, you would be exposed to a variety of germs from other people at the gym.
In fact, according to research, water fountains and sinks that are available for public use contain huge levels of bacteria, specifically, much more than a typical doggy water bowl. Make sure to stay hydrated while working out, but also make sure to bring enough water from home.
The Locker Room Floors
The fungi that bring about athlete’s foot can be commonly found in sports club showers and on the floors of locker rooms, says Philip Tierno, Ph.D., a microbiologist and author of the book The Secret Life of Germs.
Interestingly, you have higher chances of getting athlete’s foot in hot weather, also, women are less likely to be infected than men. So always bring your flip-flops for extra protection if you tend to shower at the gym.
Don’t forget to follow a few simple precautions, such washing your hands thoroughly and covering any cuts or wounds using a bandage. P.S: Regular exercise is health boosting. You can easily prevent skin disease by using common sense and proper hygiene practices. You do not have the right to take this article as an excuse to stop or skip working out.