Going to the gym is great. Even if you don’t make friends with the other members of your gym, it’s nice to do something communal. You can swap tips, share advice and it can help you stay motivated.
But there is one downside to exercising in any public place: a greater concentration of germs. People who work out in communal spaces are at a higher risk of getting sick from infections. Here are ten tips from FitSugar on how to stay germ-free during your workout.
1. Get the dirt on the cleaning schedule.
Ask how often the equipment gets cleaned. If the staff isn’t willing to show you the schedule, they’re probably not very strict about it. There’s reason to switch gyms if the hygiene standards don’t make the cut.
2. Use disinfectant on all equipment.
Even if it doesn’t look sweaty, spray it down or use a disinfecting wipe on all workout machines and weights. Spray works most efficiently if you apply it directly to the machine, not onto towels. Stretch out for a few minutes while it works, and then wipe it off with a clean towel.
3. Cover all cuts with Band-Aids.
Even if it seems insignificant, the smallest breaks in the skin are places where bacteria can penetrate. This includes blisters, hangnails, and dry skin with cracks.
4. Bring your own mat.
Mats have been shown to be one of the dirtiest items at the gym. You should wash yours once a week, most are machine washable. Or just give it a loving scrub-down with some anti-bacterial soap.
5. Never be barefoot.
Even in the shower and around the pool, always have on your sports shoes or flip flops.
6. Shower ASAP.
Bacteria loves sweat. It’s best to shower before you leave the gym, and don’t forget the shower shoes.
7. Keep your shoes clean.
It’s good to use a little antibacterial soap on your flip-flips every couple of weeks. Letting them dry out in the sun is also a good way to kill bacteria.
8. Bring your own towel.
Washing mix-ups happen. Plus, many people have probably handled those towels sitting in the corner.
9. Don’t touch your face.
Use your towel to wipe the sweat from your face. If you must touch your face, like to push hair out of your eyes, try to use the back of your hand. It comes in contact with fewer surfaces.
10. Bring a separate bag for post-workout garments.
Don’t let sweaty stuff mix with the clean, it will give the bacteria more surfaces to grow on. Instead, bring a small plastic shopping bag to stash your stuff in when you’re done working out.