It’s no secret that hitting the gym has innumerable benefits for your body and mind. That’s why it’s such a bummer that the gym isn’t always the healthiest place for you to hang out. In fact, a fitness center can be host to a plethora of germs brought in by guests and missed by cleaning crews, no matter how thorough they are. There is good news, though: you can avoid getting unwanted germs from the gym during your next workout and beyond. The following five tips will help you do it.
Wipe Down Your Equipment
This should be the first step before any workout, whether you’re lifting weights or taking a run on the treadmill. Because so many hands touch these items, they’re often ripe with germs and bacteria that cause viruses, the flu, etc. Your gym should supply disinfectant wipes or spray so that you can eradicate any unwanted germs before you start your workout. If that’s not the case, bring along a small bottle of antibacterial hand gel and cleanse your hands before and after you exercise. You can also hit the locker room to rinse off your face, just in case you’ve touched it and transferred germs during your workout.
Most gyms and yoga studios will provide their patrons with mats that they can use for free or at a small fee. This is clearly convenient and allows you the ease of traveling to and from the gym without carrying a bulky mat on your back. There is, of course, a trade-off: mats can carry just as much bacteria as the machinery mentioned in tip #1. The easiest way to ensure that you’re not sharing germs is to bring your own mat when you go to exercise. When you’re finished, wipe it down as you would another piece of equipment — even though it’s yours and yours alone, it might still gather germs while in the studio.
If you don’t have your own mat to bring, follow the procedure from tip #1 and wipe your borrowed mat down before and after you exercise. You can also place a towel over the mat while you use it build an even better barrier between yourself and unwanted germs.
…And Towel, Too
Just as communal mats can carry germs from the gym, so can the towels provided by your fitness center. They’re washed and dried regularly, of course, but other hands will undoubtedly touch them before you do. They also sit amid the germs that you’re diligently cleaning from machines and free weights, which means your towel could potentially deliver them right to you during your workout.
For that reason, you should just avoid the middle man and bring your own towel for your workouts. You’ll know that your linens are clean and have only touched your skin. You’ll also experience the benefits of having a towel designed specifically for workout purposes: they wick moisture more effectively and probably feel softer than the ones laundered in an industrial washer-dryer.
Beware the Locker Room Bench
After a tough workout, all you want to do is sit down; however, try and avoid plopping down on the benches in your gym’s locker room. Researchers have found all sorts of germs here, including yeast in women’s changing areas. If you must take a seat, do so with a towel barrier between your body and the bench.
The same goes for the steam room and shower area. The former has an incredible wealth of health benefits, including exfoliation of your skin and dislodging your pores of any lingering impurities. You’re most likely already wearing a towel in here to protect yourself from any lingering germs on the benches. You should also wear a pair of flip-flops in the steam room and in the shower to avoid contact with any fungi that will make your feet itchy or smelly.
Don’t Take It With You
What’s in your hand as you walk in and out of the gym? If your answer was “gym bag,” then you have one more cleaning assignment after your workouts: a cleansing spray-down of your carry-all. Your best option is to stick to a bag made of vinyl or plastic material so that you can easily spray it down after your workout. Pack a small can of disinfectant spray in one of the bag’s pockets so that you remember to use it each and every time that you use your gym bag.
If you must choose a bag that’s made of cotton or another more porous fabric, make sure that it’s machine washable and throw it in for a wash once a week. Regardless of the bag’s material, try and keep your dirty gym clothes and shoes in a separate compartment or plastic bag so that they have fewer chances to transfer germs from the gym to your car, home, office or wherever else you might plop your bag down.
Let’s be clear: the benefits and feel-good vibes that come with a good workout outweigh the risk of picking up unwanted germs from the gym. These tips are only meant to help you maintain the gold health that you’re honing while you exercise, so go forth and conquer today’s workout – just make sure you wash your hands.
About the Author
Kacey Mya Bradley is a lifestyle blogger for “The Drifter Collective.”Throughout her life, she has found excitement in the world around her.Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations, cultures, and styles, while communicating these endeavors through her passion for writing and expression. Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.