With cold and flu season in our midst, we all need to take extra precautions to stay healthy. Because fitness centers can be fertile ground for germs, we recommend following a few simple steps to protect yourself and others whenever you head to the gym for a workout:
- Wipe down equipment before AND after use. The most effective preventive measure is to use the gym wipes provided at most fitness centers to clean off the equipment before and after using it. This includes dumbbells and mats, as well as the machines. Even if you bring your own yoga or stretching mat, be sure to clean that as well because it can pick up germs simply by being carried and placed on the gym floor.
- Wash up! Be sure to wash your hands, or at least use hand sanitizer, before and after completing your workout. If you have the time, shower immediately after a workout and change into clean, dry clothes. Sitting in sweaty clothes will only increase your exposure to potentially harmful pathogen.
- Be defensive.
- Wear sandals when walking and showering in the locker rooms, and around pool decks. Bacteria-causing infections, such as athlete’s foot, tend to linger in warm and damp environments.
- Shower before entering the pool and after exiting. The shower will not only wash away dirt and oil, but also any bad bacteria or germs that attached to your body.
- If you have an open wound, avoid all contact with the pool until it’s fully healed. When using equipment, cover the wound with a bandage while exercising to reduce the chance of contracting any germs via the wound as well as to prevent secretion from the wound spreading to others.
- Avoid touching your face until after you’ve washed your hands. The eyes, nose, and mouth easily transmit viruses and bacteria to the body.
- Allow your body the rest and recovery time it needs. If you’re feeling under the weather, take a rest day from the gym! Coughing and sneezing around the equipment will expedite the spread of germs that can cause a cold, norovirus, and influenza. Your body will appreciate the break – and so will your fellow gym goers.
- The Golden Rule: Treat your Fitness Center the way you wish others to treat it. Wipe down your equipment and be a courteous and clean workout neighbor, and others will follow suit.
Don’t let a fear of germs be your reason not to exercise! Studies have shown exercise improves your overall fitness, which can help boost your immune system. In fact, ‘moderate intensity’ exercise may reduce the number of colds you get. So, grab a gym wipe and get on that treadmill!
Author: Kasey Jenkins, HealthEase Fitness Center Site Manager