You go to the gym to get fit and healthy. You work on your cardiovascular health and do some weight training, often in the hopes of losing weight. However, during your fitness efforts, you may be exposing yourself to billions of bugs, germs, viruses, and microbes that can make you sick.
Where the Gym Germs Are Hiding
1. The gym floor. The gym floor is a perfect habitat for nasty germs. The floor is covered in dust and sweat, which gives those nasty little buggers a perfect place to thrive.
2. The locker room floor. The locker room floor may be even worse than the gym floor. This warm and moist environment is a breeding ground for fungi and viruses that cause warts.
• One of the most common diseases that people pick up in a locker room is athlete’s foot, which is a fungal infection that causes burning, itching, and cracking in the skin.
3. The gym equipment. When the sweaty people ahead of you leave a machine, they’re leaving behind all kinds of nasty little germs. The same goes for dumbbells, barbells, and weight plates, or anything else that they touch.
• If someone sneezes into their hand, they can easily send over 100,000 infectious particles into the palm of their hand, transferring those germs to the equipment.
4. Hot tubs, swimming pools, saunas, and showers. These warm and wet places are prone to breeding cold and flu viruses, fungi, and bacteria related to digestion.
• Giardia, commonly found in pools and hot tubs, can cause gastrointestinal issues.
5. Water fountains. As surprising and disturbing as it may be, a study from the University of Arizona found that water fountains are some of the nastiest places in the entire gym, with even more bacteria than gym equipment and locker room floors.
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself
Hopefully at this point you’re not so afraid of going to the gym that you decide to stop working out forever. Knowing about the dangers that exist is the first step in beating them. It also helps to have some knowledge of the various ways you can protect yourself.
1. Bring your own water. Since the water fountains in most gyms are pretty nasty places, it would be smart to bring your own water. Avoid the chance of ingesting various bacteria and viruses.
2. Bring more than one gym towel. Since bacteria are everywhere in the gym, it’s a good idea to bring two towels. Use one to wipe down the equipment and another one to wipe the sweat off your body.
• Avoid taking the germs from the equipment and transferring them directly to your body by using just one towel.
3. Wear shoes or sandals, even in the shower. If you walk around the gym barefoot, you’re asking for a case of athlete’s foot.
4. Use plenty of soap and hand sanitizer. Soap and hand sanitizer kill the germs that can make you sick.
• Even if it may seem excessive, you might want to use hand sanitizer after each machine.
5. Cover up any cuts or open sores. If you have any scratches, scrapes, or cuts, keep them covered with a bandage. That will help protect you against germs and skin infections.
Because germs are everywhere, you’re unable to avoid them altogether. However, by taking some simple precautions, you can effectively protect yourself and prevent sickness from gym germs.