Cases of Swine Flu or H1N1 are exponentially exploding this flu season. Gyms are like incubators or petrie dishes for breading and spreading germs. The other day I was completely grossed out and horrified when some rude, sneezing, snarfing, and sick person was working out next to me. (Makes no sense, because we’re working out to feel good and get fit/healthy right)? With all the people, sweat, and warmth, gyms are the ideal breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. Here are a few ways to protect yourself and avoid getting sick from nasty germs (and people) at the gym.
1. Stay home if you’re sick. Do you want to catch a cold from a sick person at the gym? Of course not! And other people don’t want to pick up your sick germs either. If you are have a fever, are sneezing, and/or coughing, you are contagious. Stay home. If you have a cold, give yourself a chance to rest and recover and return to the gym when you are feeling better. If you do feel up to working out, try exercising at home or outdoors instead where you won’t infect others.
2. If someone is sick, stay away from them. Studies show germs from a sneezing/coughing person travel up to a 4 to 6 feet–10 feet for H1N1 So stay at least 10+ feet away from someone who is coughing or sneezing. If the person seems really ill then, inform the gym manager who should ask that member to leave immediately. (Plus, you’ll avoid a potentially uncomfortable confrontation with the person. Let the gym manager play bad cop.)
3. Clean the gym equipment before and after use. All gyms should have spray bottles with cleaning solution and paper towels available. Don’t assume that the person who used the machine before you cleaned it. Wipe the machine down before you use it and clean it again when you’re finished. Clean the handles, keypads, and tension adjusters—any place the person before you may have touched.
4. Rally your gym to properly clean the equipment. Ask your gym to use green, biodegradable anti-microbial cleaning disinfectant to clean the gym equipment. During flu season the equipment should be cleaned and wiped down frequently during the day, especially during high use periods. *One pet peeve I personally have is when the cleaning crew uses the same filthy rag over and over again. This is spreading germs, not killing them. Speak with the gym manager to inform the cleaning crew to change rags frequently along with washing them afterwards for proper disinfecting.
5. Wash your hands frequently. The most important thing you can do to protect yourself from germs at the gym is to frequently wash your hands. Washing your hands with soap and water reduces the risk of transmission of viruses and bacteria. Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, until you have washed your hands. Most gyms also have available hand sanitizer wipes. Always wash your hands before you leave the gym.
6. Bring your own towels and mat. It’s best to bring your own towels and mat, especially if you’re unsure of your gym’s cleaning regimen. Place your towel down on any machine you’re going to sit or lie down on. (You might want to invest in an antimicrobial mat that prevents bacterial growth and odor.)
7. Stay well hydrated. Everyone knows it’s important to drink plenty of water when you are working out. Staying well hydrated keeps your eye, nose, and mouth mucous membranes moist, and less likely for germs to “stick” thus infecting you.
9. Get out of your sweaty clothes. Once you’re done with your workout, you should change as soon as possible. Your sweaty clothes are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. If you don’t have time for a shower, at least wash your hands or wipe them down with hand sanitizer.
10. Keep your feet covered. Wear flip flops or water shoes when walking around the locker room or pool area to avoid picking up germs or fungus that can cause warts, athlete’s foot, and other issues.
11. Keep your gym bag clean. To prevent germs from growing in your gym bag, remove your sweaty clothes, towels, and workout kicks from your bag when you get home from the gym.
Eating healthfully is one of the best ways to stay well. I recommend my SOUPer Slim Diet ebook.