No, it’s not all in your head, and you are not just being a germophobe. The warm, sweaty atmosphere at the gym is the ideal breeding ground for bacteria and all types of germs. Follow these tips to avoid the all too common gym germs and save your sick days for something a little more fun.
1. Be Selective
Before you even choose your gym, take a few minutes to investigate things and be a little selective. Look for the basics when you’re assessing a new fit spot. You want to make that at the very least it looks clean and well-kept, including both the workout area and the locker room. Also, determine that there is adequate housekeeping staff to keep things clean. And take a quick assessment of the ventilation. A well-ventilated gym space allows germs to be filtered effectively while an air-tight gym is an ideal host to airborne infections.
2. Keep Your Feet Covered
Obviously you won’t be working out without shoes on, but it’s important that you keep your feet covered even in the shower. A hot shower, sauna sweat sesh, hot tub soak, or even a steam may seem like the perfect workout treat, but it’s also the prime spot for germs like athlete’s foot. Be sure to keep your feet well covered while working out as well as entering other areas at the gym. Always wear flip-flops in the locker room and all of the other shower and post-workout refresh areas. Also, if you are recovering from a case of athlete’s foot or another cut or infection yourself, be courteous and keep things covered to avoid further spread of the condition.
3. Use Your Own Hygiene Products
It can be tempting to borrow a friend’s bar of soap or stick of deodorant, but this is another surefire way to support the spread of germs. By sharing you are simply participating in the active spread of germs and could catch a cold or another more serious ailment. Keep a travel set of deodorant, body wash/soap, toothbrush and paste, and hairbrush in your gym bag so you always have everything you need on hand and aren’t tempted to borrow your friend’s.
4. Keep Cuts and Wounds Covered
Open wounds or otherwise broken skin are the perfect entryway for bacteria to enter your body, and it really doesn’t matter how big or small the wound is. Protect yourself from infection, by covering the wound with a Band-Aid prior to your workout. Also, if you’re prone to cutting yourself while shaving, wait to shave until after your workout so you don’t have any fresh, open shaving cuts for bacteria to penetrate.
5. Disinfect the Equipment
One of the most effective ways to avoid germs at the gym is to disinfect the equipment before your workout. Don’t rely on your gym to provide wipes or spray either. Carry your own antibacterial wipes with you to quickly and effectively wipe off the equipment and eliminate bacteria before you use it. Most gyms provide a cleansing spray and towels; however, you have no idea how many uses the towels have had. So it really is most effective to have your own cleansing towelettes.
6. Keep Yourself Covered
Everyone knows that one girl who proudly struts around the locker room in the nude. But, don’t be so impressed by her bravery. Baring it all is one of the best ways to come into contact with the most germs. Instead, keep yourself covered to avoid contacting germs when sitting on benches and other shared surfaces, such as in the steam room.
7. Bring Water
Sure, it’s easiest to just rely on the gym’s cooler to provide your post-workout water refresh. Most gyms even have spare cups. However, drinking fountains and water coolers are among the most germ-infested locations in the gym. So instead of drinking after everyone else, bring your own water for your personal use and avoid the shared germs.
8. Shower After
The best way to get rid of germs post-workout is to jump in the shower and wash off. Hot water and an antibacterial soap are must-haves for gym showers. If you really don’t have time to shower, though, at the very least wash your hands and any exposed skin with a clean washcloth and antibacterial soap.
Don’t negate your health-improving gym habit by exposing yourself to all the germs at the gym. Use these tips to avoid the most germs and stay healthy all year long.