Beware of Germy Gyms

Whenever I get on a plane or use someone else’s computer keyboard and mouse, I whip out the disinfectant wipes.  Have you ever read the reports on the germy nature of just about every surface in existence?  Wonder where you got that cold, flu, or other illness?

While doctors will say that the benefits of exercise far outweigh the small chance of acquiring a staph or other infection at the gym (so don’t use this report as an excuse for hugging that couch!), you ought to take some common sense steps to protect yourself.  And since just about everyone makes a New Year’s resolution to “get fit” once the holidays are over, here are some tips for you to keep in mind when you’re ready to reacquaint yourself with your local gym:

1.Before you use equipment (including exercise balls, spinning bikes, and weight machines), wipe off the surfaces with a disinfectant wipe that has at least 60% alcohol.  Just wiping with a wet towel is not enough!

2.Don’t use anyone else’s towel or yoga mat – they’re fast lanes to bacterial, fungal and viral infections.

3.Shower immediately after working out at a gym.  Wear flip-flops in communal showers, and bring your own soap, unless the gym has liquid soap dispensers.

4.Don’t go into the sauna or whirlpool if you have a cut, scrape or bad bruise.  Chlorine generally kills a lot of bad bugs, but others can survive…and don’t drink the water in those tubs!

5.If a scratch, bruise or cut gets red, hot, or tender, see a physician!  Don’t just let the infection fester until it’s progressed to something serious.

6.Get your own bicycle and ride in the neighborhood.  Buy some free weights, get a trainer, or buy a variety of workout videos.  Working out in your own home avoids a lot of “bugs” – except those you get from your school-age children!