Saturday, February 19, 2011

How to avoid germs at the gym

Gyms are supposed to be good for you; a place you can go to improve your fitness and overall health. At the gym you can get fit, lose weight and tone up, but without the right precautions you can also get sick. With all that sweating and close-quarters, the gym can be a harbor for dangerous germs and bacteria. Protect yourself while you're working out with these quick germ-fighting precautions.

1. Keep tabs on your things. Personal items like razors and towels absorb and transfer the highest amount of germs, so keep them close by. Don't share them and don't borrow anyone else's.

2. Keep your cuts and scrapes under wraps. Not only will your open wound spread germs to everyone else, but it also leaves you vulnerable to infections if your scrape happens to encounter germs.

3. Wipe down your machine before and after using it. Even better, cover it with a towel before each set to minimize contact with harmful bacteria.

4. Mind your mat. Exercise mats can harbor a mind-boggling amount of germs from athlete's foot, E. coli, flu viruses, staph bacteria, and ringworm. Bring your own mat and wash it often with warm, soapy water. If you have not choice but to use a public mat, clean it with sanitizer before use.

5. Wear flip flops in the shower. Not only are shower floors slippery and slimy, they're also safe havens for water, which means they're breeding grounds for bacteria. Protect your feet in the shower with a cool pair of flip-flops.

6. Don't forget your hands. It's conventional bacteria-busting advice that translates to the gym. Wash your hands with antibacterial soap for 15 seconds for maximum germ-fighting. Plus, carry hand sanitizer with 62 percent alcohol.

7. Do laundry often. As if all that sweating isn't motivation enough to wash your gym clothes between uses, germs should be. Launder your clothes between each use if possible. Not only will it cut down on germs, but it'll help eliminate that funky smell in your gym bag.

8. Keep an eye out for small bumps that look kind of like pimples or spider bites. If they're painful and won't go away, they could be out breaks of MRSA. The antibiotic-resistant infection used to be contained to hospitals, but debuted itself to the public in 2007.

9. Choose a clean gym. Before you sign up for a membership, ask how often the equipment and facility gets cleaned. Be sure to ask specifically about the pool, showers and bathrooms. If it's not often, move on.


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