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When Health Clubs are a Health Hazard

Whether you currently have a gym membership or plan on joining a gym as part of a New Year’s resolution, there’s one thing you should know: health clubs potentially pose health hazards.

That’s right, even though your local gym provides many ways for you to improve your health, there are a few ways that the opposite may be true.

Skin Infection

Germs are the main health risk at your local gym. Most health clubs encourage their members to spray equipment with a disinfecting spray after using, but we all know that’s not followed by everyone.

Staph infections can spread through gym equipment, towels and even mats. They tend to occur on certain areas of the body, including the armpit, neck, groin, and butt. They start out looking like a pimple, but grow and become more painful and produce puss. While they often clear on their own, you should contact your doctor if you develop a fever or the infection grows, or  becomes tender and warm.

Dirty Pools

Not that I haven’t partaken, but I have always been a little standoffish about public pools. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, inspections at 3,666 health clubs in 13 states revealed serious problems and led to 10 percent of the pools to be shut down due to unsanitary conditions. Ask your gym’s staff about chlorine and pH levels and how often they check them. It should be done at least twice a day.

Gym members who use the pool should shower with soap before going in, but we all know that most patrons hop right in after a sweaty workout!

Physical Injuries

It’s not just about germs found on machines or the pool. Using gym equipment can also lead to physical injuries. Whether it’s an eye injury during racquetball or muscular strains in the weight room, you need to be mindful of the dangers that physical training can pose.

If you’re a beginner, maybe start out on the resistance machines rather than free weights. Warm up a little to get the blood flowing and your muscles loosened up, and if you are using free weights take your time and methodically push, pull, lift and them go.

(via: Washington Post)

December 27th, 2010

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