According to a study published in Clinical Journal of Sports & Medicine “There is a risk of exposure to pathogenic bacteria at the gym via exercise equipments. Such equipment may commonly serve as fomites for the transmission of viruses. These data do not suggest that disinfection of exercise equipment will offer significant protective effects against virus exposure.”
The first step to avoiding gym germs is knowing where they live. Germs thrive in wet, humid areas–putting locker rooms and showers right in the danger zone. The biggest threat is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacterium that can cause skin infections. In addition to clothes and gear, your gym bag could pick up some unwelcome passengers—like E. coli, Norovirus and staph—through contact with benches and floors. Gym’s towels and yoga mats are also carriers of bacteria or viruses from baskets, benches or lockers.
Precautions To Be Ensured
- Take a tour of the gym before choosing it, and check to make sure it’s clean and well-ventilated. Ask about the gym’s policies for day-to-day cleaning of equipment and machines.
- Keep any cuts covered with a moisture-resistant bandage during workouts. Most infections enter the skin through lacerations.
- Bring your own water bottle, mat, towels, boxing gloves and toiletries. If you must use a shared mat, wipe it down with a disinfecting spray before and after each use, and place a towel on the mat as an extra germ barrier. Other best practices include bringing your own antimicrobial soap and shampoo, drying your feet thoroughly after showering, and wearing a towel when sitting in the steam room or sauna.
- Wipe down all cardio and weight machines with sanitizing spray before and after using.
- Wear flip-flops in the shower and locker room.
- Make sure you wear a towel when sitting in the steam room or sauna.
- Wash your hands before leaving the gym.
- Store sweaty workout clothes separately from other items.
- Choose a bag for gym in a material that’s less germ-friendly, such as plastic or vinyl, and wipe it down with disinfecting spray when you get home. Store sweaty clothes in a separate plastic bag.
- If you notice any skin irritations, such as a rash or red, painful area, contact a doctor to check for possible infection.
Remember that you have hit the gym to improve your fitness, not to pick up sickness.