The gym is one of the germiest places that you come in contact with. Gym equipment, water fountains, and yoga mats are frequently used and in some cases may be rarely cleaned. The gym can be crawling with infectious bacteria and viruses, especially during the cold and flu season. You can rely on your immune system to fight off any illness, or it may be worth it to you to take extra precautions by grabbing alcohol wipes that line the wall, always carrying a hand towel to keep the sweat at bay, or using the hand sanitizer pumps at the exit. Tell us: do you sanitize at the gym, or do you rely on your immune system alone?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say that alcohol-based hand sanitizers help protect against MRSA and other germs, but the FDA is telling consumers not to buy hand sanitizers that claim to kill MRSA, E. coli, salmonella, flu, or other bacteria or viruses because over-the-counter antiseptic products may claim only that they "help reduce bacteria that potentially can cause disease." The CDC's advice? Wash your hands often with soap and water, and when you can't wash your hands, then use a hand sanitizer — you can even make your own.
Source: Flickr User bratha
The nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton are still over a month away, but there's no shortage of royal wedding merchandise and memorabilia to get you ready for their big day. From Kate Middleton-inspired nail polish and engagement nail decals to a fragrance formulated just for the imperial pair, check out some of the regalia manufacturers have to offer.
At this year's Yoga Journal Conference I received a free bottle of Nama Hand and Yoga Mat Sanitizer ($6). The timing couldn't have been better: I had a class with Ana Forrest scheduled for later that day and forgot to bring my DIY mat cleaner from home. I've since used the entire bottle of Nama sanitizer up, and while I'm still partial to my homemade tea tree mat sanitizer, Nama is a great option for people who aren't into DIY cleaners.
What I like best about the Nama sanitizer mist is that it's natural and safe to use on my mat. There's nothing artificial about it; instead it's made up of things like green tea extract, peppermint oil, water, and alcohol (to really get rid of the germs). Since chemical-filled cleaners are one of the reasons I started making my own mat cleaner at home, it's nice to have a retail option for times when I might be in a bind. Like any mist sanitizer, it's also easy to use — just spray and wipe dry. But, what's really great about this spray is how good it smells. The scent of peppermint is completely invigorating and fresh, and it ensures that I am never caring around a smelly mat.
Confession: I'm a bit of a germaphobe. Working in an office, commuting by bus, and frequenting the gym puts me in the line of fire when it comes to viruses. Now that it's Winter, there's a lot of extra sniffling going on. Since I can't hibernate, I wash my hands a lot. I'm also fond of DIY cleansers for keeping the germs away. Here's what I mix up to keep myself, my food, and my yoga mat germ-free. All easy to make, and you probably already own most of the ingredients.
- Hand sanitizer — For times I can't get to a sink, hand sanitizer is my best friend. Make your own to save on money and to cut down on waste. All it takes is some aloe vera gel and rubbing alcohol. You can also add tea tree oil to the mix, or, if you prefer something less antiseptic smelling, try lavender oil.
- Yoga/Pilates mat cleaner — Exercise mats can get pretty gross, so make a habit of cleaning them often. Keep a spray bottle of homemade disinfectant in your gym bag to sanitize your mat immediately after every use.
- Produce wash — Unfortunately, water is not enough to thoroughly clean produce. To really get the germs off, mix your own produce wash at home. All you need is some water, vinegar, baking soda, and lemon.
Have a cleansing formula of your own? Share it in the comments section below.
Source: Flickr user lululemon athletica
It's the real world out there! Once baby leaves the womb, the infant has to deal with the threat of contracting everything from the swine flu to whooping cough. The thought of germs getting to the precious babe can have new parents pulling out medical masks and sizing up visitors. But infants love affection, so it's just a matter of time until the wee one is held by friends and family members. What precaution do you think parents should take to keep their kiddo healthy?
To avoid germs, I'm pretty fanatical about washing my hands. I also keep a bottle of hand sanitizer next to my desk. Not only am I keeping germs away, I'm a better employee because of it! Alcohol-based hand sanitizers improve job productivity and reduce the number of days employees are out sick, says a new study. Researchers in Germany found that sick days dropped significantly in offices where hand sanitizer is available.
The study split up a group of 129 participants: one group stuck to their normal hand-washing routine, and the other used hand sanitizer at least five times a day. At the end of the year, the employees who used hand sanitizer reported fewer sick days than those in the control group. They also reported fewer cold and flu symptoms in general. And while job productivity of the two groups was not measured, the researchers deduce that fewer sick days and better health translates into better on-the-job performance. But don't think that this study means you can skip out on soap and water, since hand sanitizer won't kill all viruses, like norovirus or E. coli.
After nursing two sick children last week, these headlines caught my attention, since staying well is always on my mind.
Shame "Boosts Hand Washing Rate" — BBC
"Is the person next to you washing with soap?" This is the shaming message used to scare Brits using public restrooms into washing their hands . . . with soap. This big brother-like query was more effective than, although not as cute as, in my opinion, the phrase, "Don't be a dirty soap dodger."
Does Exercise Boost Immunity? — New York Times
According to a couple of studies, the answer is a qualified yes. It is regular, moderate exercise that helps you fight off bugs. Too much vigorous exercise seems to suppress the immune systems, leaving endurance athletes at a disadvantage as marathon season wraps up and flu season begins.
Flu Worries Pump Up Sales of Hand Sanitizer — NPR
The stock market might be making a slow turnaround, but hand sanitizer sales are bumping. In the US, we spent over $117 million on the gel-based cleaners last year. Fear of the H1N1 virus and the back-to-school season made for a 50 percent increase in hand sanitizer sales in August 2009 over the same month the previous year.
Everyone around me is sick lately, and it has me washing my hands in overdrive, but if I'm not near a sink I use hand sanitizer. The problem is that those little bottles start to add up financially, and I feel bad throwing out so many plastic containers. Recently, my friend shared her recipe for homemade sanitizer with me and I've been a convert ever since.
What's cool is that the basic ingredients are things I already keep in my medicine cabinet: aloe vera gel and rubbing alcohol. You can make as little or as much as you want, but always use a ratio of six parts alcohol to four parts aloe vera gel for it to be effective. If you're a big germaphobe like I am you can also add tea tree oil — nature's antiseptic — to the mixture. I put about five drops into every half-cup of sanitizer I make. I also add lavender oil to the mix to kill the medicinal smell. From there, just add your mixture to a small bottle that you can always keep with you.
I still think that washing your hands trumps sanitizer, but this recipe is a great alternative to the store-bought stuff.
I recently attended my first outdoor concert of the Summer and was dismayed, after a trip to the portapotty, to find that I had no hand sanitizer in my bag. I usually make it a point to carry antibacterial wipes or spray for all of my Summer hiking, camping, walking, and concert excursions.
Inspired by my newly updated first aid kit, I decided to assemble a Summer safety kit to toss in my backpack. In addition to a small bottle of hand sanitizer, I included a few handiwipes, a small can of bug spray, a travel tube of sunscreen, and a few Band-aids to treat any potential blisters on long walks or hikes. I'll make sure to keep it stocked throughout the season, so I'll always be prepared.
Is there anything else you think I should add?