Muscle & Fitness Hers - May/June 2009 Excerpt: Staying Germ-free In The Gym!

Is Your Gym Making You Sick? What you should watch out for - and we aren't talking about the slimy guy at the juice bar. Learn more.


Is Your Gym Making You Sick?
What You Should Watch Out For - And We Aren't Talking About The Slimy Guy At The Juice Bar.

"Gyms may be disinfected better than our homes, but there can be hundreds of people using them," says Anne Maczulak, PhD, author of The Five-Second Rule and Other Myths About Germs: What Everyone Should Know About Bacteria, Viruses, Mold, and Mildew (Running Press, 2007). "So after a few hours, the benefit is gone."

Microscopic living organisms called microbes love to lurk in health clubs, where moisture and sweat combine to create the perfect breeding ground for nasty infections. Check out these pesky predators that could be making your health club, well, not so healthy.

Experts agree that good hygiene - both during and after your workouts - is key to prevention. Cover scrapes and cuts with bandages to protect them from infection. Use a towel as a barrier on mats and weight benches during workouts. And when you wash your hands, lather up for at least 11 seconds to get rid of all the germs.

Take The Time To Wipe The Equipment Down After Use.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Take The Time To Wipe The
Equipment Down After Use.

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Showering right after you train will remove bacteria before it has a chance to grow. And be sure to wash your workout clothing, as well as your own equipment, such as yoga mats, after every use. Soap and warm water work best.

In the locker room, don't share personal items such as towels, razors, soap or loofahs. Use a towel when sitting on dressing-room benches, and be sure to wear shoes in and around the shower stalls and bathroom.

Finally, don't reuse water bottles until you've thoroughly washed and dried them. "If you fill it with water and leave it in a hot place, you're incubating all the bacteria in that bottle," Maczulak says.

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Although gyms aren't microbes' biggest hideouts, they can find a way to cause problems. Follow these suggestions to help you stay healthy despite the predators that may lurk in your gym.

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