While your favorite gym or fitness center helps you lose weight, it’s one of the germiest places to hang in. “A study in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found rhinoviruses on 63 percent of the gym equipment at the fitness centers they tested,” Men’s Health reported. The study also discovered that weight equipment is significantly more contaminated than aerobic equipment (73 percent versus 51 percent).
To keep yourself and your gym mates from contracting bacteria and viruses, master these cleanliness rules:
1. Keep your hands away from your face. Imagine how many sweaty, grimy, bacteria-laden hands go through each dumbbell and equipment at the gym. Since you can’t wash your hands after each set, make sure you avoid touching your face during your entire workout. Wash your hands thoroughly with lots of soap after your session, or at least use hand sanitizer.
2. Wipe the equipment before and after use. Bring a pack of wipes or a separate hand towel just for wiping the equipment or exercise mat before and after use. Feel free to use a few drops of hand sanitizer when you wipe. Don’t be the girl who leaves a puddle of sweat on the seat of the stationary bike for the next person.
3. Bring your own. If you have sensitive skin or are prone to getting sick, consider bringing your own mat or at least a long towel to use over the mat. Water dispensers are generally okay, but stay away from those old school water fountains. Imagine the careless mouths that touch the water valves, and not to mention, the bacteria that breeds within. CNN reported that a public drinking fountain is germier than the toilet seat, so it’s best to just bring your own filled water bottle, CGs!
3. Wash or shower after working out. It’s tempting to crash on the couch or go out to eat immediately after working out. Taking a shower after you exercise will not only get rid of the dirt and sweat you accumulated during your workout sesh, but will also keep your skin from having acne breakouts. If you’re the type who hates using the gym shower, at least wash your face and hands, and then use wipes to get rid of the grime in your back, neck, and chest.
4. Shower smart. Prevent athlete’s foot by using flip-flops in the gym shower and washing the spaces between your toes thoroughly. If you’re entering the shower right after someone uses it, feel free to use the flexible showerhead to give the tiled floor and walls an extra rinse before you take a shower. As a courtesy to the next user, make sure you wash away any remaining soapy suds on the floor.
5. Watch your hygiene. Use a strong deodorant before working out. You don’t want to be the BO-emitting person that everyone avoids. Bring a personal towel (different from the equipment towel) to wipe off your sweat. Apply hand sanitizer in between sessions.
6. Stay at home when you’re sick. If you hate seeing a sniffling, sneezing person work out next to you, then don’t ruin it for others by forcing yourself to hit the gym with the flu. “Most colds are transmitted through hand to nose contact.” [via Men’s Health]
7. Keep your gear clean. Make sure you wash your eco-friendly water bottle before refilling it. Remove your sweaty gym clothes and damp towels from your bag as soon as you get home. Air out your shoes at home and don’t leave them in a plastic bag. Never leave your filthy gym stuff in your bag or in your car. Wipe your shoes and bathroom slippers (including the bottoms) with disinfecting wipes after each use. Fungus and bad odors love breeding in dirty, damp spaces.