If you work out at a gym, you and your fellow gym goers may share more than just the pursuit of fitness. Even in the cleanest facilities, there may be surfaces that harbor germs.
You don’t need to be afraid to hit the gym. But why not take sensible steps for germ protection and peace of mind?
Wipe it down
Some gyms provide disinfectant wipes or sprays you can use to clean equipment in between use.
“There’s no question that hygiene, both personal hygiene but also wiping down inanimate objects, can kill viruses and reduce transmission,” says Jeffrey Weinstein, MD, infectious disease specialist at Kettering Health Network and chief quality officer for Kettering and Sycamore medical centers.
For larger surfaces—think exercise mats and weight-training benches—you can place a fresh towel between your skin and the surface.
Hit the showers
If your gym has showers, using them right after your workout helps wash away any germs on your skin. You might want to bring shower shoes. Going barefoot in locker rooms or on gym floors increases your chances of getting athlete’s foot.
Remember to bring a clean towel for drying off. Wash towels and gym clothes after use—and dry them completely.
Washing your hands is a simple and effective way to prevent the spread of germs.
Scrub thoroughly—including in between your fingers and all over the backs of your hands—with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. That’s about how long it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
Know when to get help
Dr. Weinstein noted that most people are not at high risk of getting an infection in a gym setting, except in situations like flu season.
“Most of the time, there’s not a lot of risk,” he says. “Still, it’s good to just get in the habit and take reasonable precautions.”
Signs of an infection can vary, including things like a runny nose, fever, diarrhea, or even boils occurring on the skin.
“If you’re having symptoms of fever, severe diarrhea that’s not resolving within a day or two, or a skin boil or infection—especially with a fever—you should go see your health care provider,” Dr. Weinstein says.
Find a physician
Visit our website or call 1-888-726-2372 to find a primary care physician.