Even though it's a one-stop destination for health, the gym persists as one of the germiest places out there. Perhaps we have no one to blame but ourselves. The next time you're at the gym, stop and take a look — it might shock you to find that a good majority of gym-goers still engage in some pretty gross habits. You've already told us what your biggest pet peeve is about the gym, but why not confess to which of these habits you're guilty of? And don't worry about any germaphobes going after you — your answers are completely anonymous!
It's kind of ironic that the gym is one of the germiest places a person can encounter in their day-to-day routine — fitness centers are where we go to get healthy! But numerous studies confirm that gyms are crawling with cold and flu viruses, the staph bacteria MRSA, and other bacteria and virus strains that can lead to skin or respiratory infections. Before you freak out and cancel your gym membership, we've rounded up which areas of the gym have the highest concentration of germs and how to protect yourself from them.
Let's talk about gyms bags. Yes, they are cute, versatile, and stylish. . . but they could be the reason behind that cold you're getting over. It's not only the gym equipment that is the bad guy here, chances are your gym bag is filled with tons of those little creatures called germs. From your swimsuit to your yoga mat, and even water bottle — here are six things that might be in need of a scrub or two.
- Sweaty gym clothes and damp swimsuits: We all do it: roll up those sweaty Bikram clothes or toss that damp swimsuit in our bag and simply forget about it! Before you walk out that locker room door, toss your satisfyingly sweaty clothes in a plastic bag. Then try to get in that habit of immediately removing them from your bag when you get home; this is the best way to assure germs and mold don't multiply (washing them in hot water helps too!).
- Your shower shoes: You probably use flip-flops to protect your feet from germs and unsightly athlete's foot. Bacteria stays off your feet, but probably not in the case of your gym bag! Designate an entirely separate compartment for your shoes and make sure you clean them often. Make it even easier on yourself and wash your plastic flip-flops in the dishwasher!
- Your water bottle: Your water bottle is the one thing that follows you through your entire workout, resting on everything from the treadmill to the weight room floor. Yuck. It is even worse if you open the pull-up top with your hands! Solve the problem with a squirt bottle or screw top and after each use, wash your bottle in the dishwasher on high heat.
There's nothing worse than having to bail on fun Summer plans because you're feeling under the weather. You may think you're clear just because the weather is warmer, but it's not the case! Summer bugs run rampant through offices all over the country. While eating healthy and keeping active will only help you on your healthy mission, there are definitely some precautions you can take at your workspace to keep things fresh and keep those germs at bay.
- Employ fresh air: One of the biggest contributors to Summer colds is constant AC contact. If you can open some windows to get things flowing, you'll be in way better shape than if your AC is on full blast day in and day out.
- Keep your water bottle fresh: We know that drinking water throughout the day helps flush your system, and hopefully you've already made the simple shift to a reusable water bottle. It's easy to forget, but it's integral to clean your water bottle often.
- Have tissues handy: No more sleeves or searching for an old napkin. Having a box of tissues handy at your desk will be a huge lifesaver. It also makes it easier to wipe down surfaces whenever you get a quick shot.
- Clean those keys: Keyboards are laden with a crazy amount of germs! I know that I definitely was worried about messing something up in the technology department. No need to fear: it's easy to clean your laptop or clean your desktop keyboard.
Keep reading for two more easy ways to keep your desk free of germs.
Cold and flu season may be winding to a close (and was a mild one at that), but the upcoming Spring cleaning season is a good reminder that germs can collect at home. Keep your home healthy and happy with these five rules for a germ-free household.
A recent New York Times article sets the record straight. The five-second rule should really become the zero-second rule, because the time on the floor doesn't at all change the risk. In fact, a 2007 Clemson University study indicated that 99 percent of bacteria was transferred nearly immediately, and neither contact time nor various surfaces (wood, tile, carpet) affected the bacteria count.
Does this change your attitude toward food that's been dropped — if only for a second?
There's no time like Spring to start getting cleanliness on the brain. A clean space makes us happier and more productive, but staying healthy and combating sickness is another reason to dust, scrub, and disinfect your home. Here are five important germ-infested areas that you shouldn't overlook when you dive into your duties!
Researchers compared triclosan and BPA antibody levels to allergies or hay fever cases in a sample of US adults and children over age six. Children and teens overexposed to triclosan, an ingredient found in many antibacterial products, were at a higher risk for hay fever and other allergies, while adults exposed to high levels of Bisphenol A (BPA), found in plastics, were also found to have weaker immune systems.
What should you do? Don't throw all your antibacterial products out just yet. The FDA has acknowledged safety concerns over triclosan, but is still studying it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you work soap into a full lather and wash hands for 20 seconds, and use hand sanitizer as backup if a sink isn't available. As for the BPA, invest in BPA-free containers.
We are pumped to share one of our fave stories from Self here on FitSugar!Well, duh — this is what we thought when we first saw a new position paper by the National Athletic Trainers' Association that emphasized that people who work out in communal settings — such as a gym — are at risk for skin infections and other infectious diseases.
But, the truth is, with our crazed schedule, we try to get in and out of the gym as quickly as possible while getting a decent workout — often forgetting to sweat the details when it comes to avoiding germs that could lead to the common cold or a potentially dangerous infection such as antibiotic-resistant staph (MRSA).
While we're not going to be crazy about it and we're certainly not encouraging anyone to skip the gym entirely, we ARE going to try to clean up our act by following these no-brainer tips from Brian B. Adams, MD, associate professor of dermatology at the University of Cincinnati:
- Cover cuts with Band-Aids. This includes small breaks in the skin such as hangnails or dry, cracked skin.
- Spray down machines — cardio and strength — even if they don't "look" sweaty. Most gyms have disinfectant available at points throughout the gym. Use it, says Adams. For best results, spray disinfectant directly on equipment, not on towels. And to make sure it kills the germs, let it sit on the surface for a couple of minutes before wiping it down with a clean cloth.
- Never let your bare feet hit the floor — that includes showers, locker rooms, and pool decks, especially. "Always keep your sandals on," says Adams. "Make it so routine that when you forget to wear them it feels like you are driving without your seatbelt on."
For seven more ways to protect yourself at the gym, keep reading.
Here's an important tip to take with you to the gym: wipe down equipment before using it. The gym is a breeding ground for germs, and even though it's nice to think that the person on the treadmill wiped it down before you, this isn't always the case. Keep in mind that you can catch more than the everyday flu or cold from gym equipment. Superbugs — like the staph bacteria MRSA — can survive on gym equipment that hasn't been cleaned properly. Staph is an incredibly aggressive skin infection that is hard to treat — something none of us should have to endure. An Idaho hospital recently reported a rise in staph infections, and officials cite that improper hygiene at gyms and other fitness facilities are the culprit.
The next time you hop on anything in the gym, give it a quick disinfecting. And to be on the safe side, wash your hands when you're done. Better safe than sorry.