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Keep It Clean:
6 Steps To Better Gym Hygiene

Keep It Clean: 6 Steps To Better Gym Hygiene

Nobody has ever accused gyms of being clean enough to eat off the floor. But that's no excuse to let down your guard. Follow these rules to help you keep from catching-or spreading-the ''gym bug!''

If you don't already wipe down gym equipment before you use it, you might want to start. As it turns out, gym rats can have some pretty repulsive habits, according to a survey conducted by Nuffield Health, a health firm in the UK.

To get the dirt on what goes on at health clubs, the firm surveyed 2,000 people. The gym sins they discovered: 74 percent of people polled said they had noticed that their fellow gym-goers committed a gym faux pas, like failing to wipe down sweaty equipment; 49 percent admitted to having used water bottles, towels, and toiletries that weren't actually theirs; 18 percent had gone to the gym despite being sick and coughing and sneezing; and 16 percent said they didn't wash their gym clothes between workouts.

Gross, sure, but not necessarily a health risk. There's no concrete, scientific evidence that finds that gyms will make you sick, according to Elaine Larson, Ph.D., director at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Antimicrobial Resistance at Columbia University.

That said, having good gym hygiene can somewhat limit your exposure to germs that cause cold, flu, norovirus, athlete's foot, and staph infection—not to mention make you a better neighbor to your fellow fitness junkies.

The key to a cleaner workout session? Simply be attentive, says Donna Duberg, assistant professor of Clinical Laboratory Science at Saint Louis University. "The real trick is you have to keep your hands and your face protected," she says. Here are her tips on how to avoid grimy gym germs.

Tip 1 Buy a Better Bottle

Metal Bottles

"Plastic water bottles tend to hold bacteria," Duberg says. "The only ones you can be sure of are metal." To clean it properly, just wash it in hot, soapy water. Also, keep an eye on your bottle to make sure someone (like nearly half of the people in the survey!) doesn't sneak a sip while you aren't paying attention.

READ MORE: The Dirtiest Thing in Your Gym Bag

Tip 2 Wipe, Wash, Repeat

Whether you decide to constantly wipe down the equipment, or cleanse your own hands, or a combination of the two, keeping your hands clean can help make sure gym germs don't do any damage. "Keep your own little area organized and hygienic, and you're going to be protected," says Duberg. After using each machine or set of weights, use the hand sanitizer and wipes that should be provided by your gym to keep germs at bay.

Tip 3 Clean Your Gear

"Dirty, dark, moist gym bags are great for fungi—they'll grow just fine in the interior," says Duberg. There are several ways to avoid contaminating your gym bag: "Put your dirt clothes in a plastic bag, take them out, and empty the plastic bag right into the washer," she says.

And don't forget about your sneakers. Like your dirty clothes, slip them into a plastic bag before throwing them into your gym bag. Then, once you get home, wipe them off with a disinfecting wipe (including the bottoms), let them air dry, and toss them back in the next day, she suggests.

"Put your dirt clothes in a plastic bag, take them out, and empty the plastic bag right into the washer."

READ MORE: The 10 WORST Exercise Machines

Tip 4 Shower Smarter

Although they're not completely foolproof, flip-flops will "provide a barrier between you and the floors and you and the shower room," says Duberg. But take note: Once they get wet in the shower, fungal spores can still get on your feet.

To minimize the risk, soak your sandals in a 10% bleach solution once in a while, she says. That'll help keep them—and your feet—as clean and fungus-free as possible.

Tip 5 Take a Rest Day

Don't go to the gym if you have a really bad cold and you're sneezing and your nose is running.

"Don't go to the gym if you have a really bad cold and you're sneezing and your nose is running," she says.

Also, if you have an open wound, you might want to stay away from the gym that day to avoid infection, or infecting anything you might touch while you're working out.

READ MORE: 6 Totally Gross Health Treatments

Tip 6 Hold Off on the Hot Tubs

If you have an open wound, skin, or other infections, absolutely do not use Jacuzzis or common pools, warns Duberg. If you do, you'll not only transmit bacteria, but you'll be more susceptible to bacteria that are already lurking in the water.


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About The Author

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Showing 1 - 11 of 11 Comments

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plmcute8402

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plmcute8402

Id throw up if I caught some1 drinlking out of my water..Thats plan nasty

May 29, 2013 6:07am | report
 
jaysinps

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jaysinps

Who the hell are these people sipping out of others water bottles?

May 29, 2013 9:28am | report
 
Amine999

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Amine999

I'd like to know myself, and how the **** do closed water bottles contain bacteria. Something tells me people conducting studies and answering interviews are just ******* idiots straight out of high school.

May 29, 2013 10:01am | report
plmcute8402

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plmcute8402

Pretty sure they mean reusing the same bottle, Im guilty, i use the same gallon jug and re-fill all week

May 29, 2013 11:43am | report
xxx_jfb_xxx

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xxx_jfb_xxx

Tip #1 and #5... no... just no.

May 29, 2013 11:04am | report
 
fredzz1003

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fredzz1003

nice tip
hope everyone here know and do it :)

May 29, 2013 11:28am | report
 
fmphillips

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fmphillips

I agree with the water bottle comments! How the heck would you...COULD YOU...use someone else's water bottle. I never let mine out of my site. I do notice people don't wipe down machines or the stretch matt (yuck) ... i have forgotten to be honest but usually pretty good at doing it..especially with my sweaty mess everywhere. Thanks for this

May 29, 2013 3:57pm | report
 
beatrizguiselle

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beatrizguiselle

Cant imagine someone sneaking up to take a sip out of your water bottle... I mean who in the world does that... can get hepatitis like that... gross.... lol Thinking about it comes to being a bit hilarious...

May 30, 2013 2:18am | report
 
fletch3r

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fletch3r

weakness level 10/10

Jun 1, 2013 1:14pm | report
 
tmo713

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tmo713

Yeah...gotten ringworm a time or two from the gym. When I see someone get up and leave their grease stain without caring to give it a wipe down, I don't hesitate to say something.

Jun 23, 2013 12:57pm | report
 
MIOLI

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MIOLI

Good to know! It would be nice if everyone took Tip #5 to heart.

Jun 25, 2013 10:01am | report
 
Showing 1 - 11 of 11 Comments

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