You think you're doing your body good by hitting the gym regularly — exercise is one way to strengthen your immune system — but sweating it out at a gym can be like walking into a germ factory. You're working out and breathing so closely to others, sharing air and equipment, it's almost impossible to avoid contact with other people's sweat and germs. Here are a few tips on how to prevent getting sick.
Wash and Repeat
Hit the bathroom or locker room as soon as you arrive at the gym to ditch any germs that may already be on your hands from work, public transportation, or wherever. After using any gym equipment, be it dumbbells or the treadmill, wash your hands. And to avoid germs that may be lurking on equipment, keep antibacterial wipes handy to give a thorough rubdown before you touch them. Pay special attention to areas commonly touched such as handles and buttons.
Never Touch This
The number one way germs are transmitted is from your hands to your face. So when you're dripping with sweat, use a clean towel — never wipe your face with your hands. You can use the towels provided by your gym, or if you're a super germaphobe, just bring your own.
Do Your Laundry
Wear clean, dry clothes every time you go to the gym. Even though yesterday's gym clothes may seem clean, bacteria and germs may be lurking from your previous workout. Once you're finished, get out of those sweaty clothes and take a shower to wash away sweat, bacteria, and germs before they have a chance to make you sick. If you don't have time, at least wash your hands and face thoroughly.
Don't go barefoot. Ever. The heat and moisture created by showers, saunas, and hot tubs create a wonderful breeding ground for bacteria, germs, and mold. So wear sneakers while in the main part of the gym, and wear flip-flops while in the locker room and shower to prevent athlete's foot.
Don't Share to Show You Care
Gyms provide a great service when they offer public yoga mats, resistance bands, and Zumba toning sticks, but you can cut down on germ exposure by throwing your own portable exercise equipment into your gym bag to use instead. And if you meet your BFF at the gym to do your favorite arms and abs circuit, do not share equipment. Even people you know and love carry germs, so always use your own towel, yoga mat, goggles, sweatband, razor, deodorant, and bar of soap. They may think you're weird for not sharing, but they'll appreciate you not getting them sick.