Weekly Wellness: Avoiding germs at the gym

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COLUMBIA - It's approaching - and we're hearing all about it all over the news: Flu season.

In my line of work, I spend many hours in high-traffic fitness facilities. Because of this I make sure I do everything I possibly can to avoid germs and avoid spreading germs to clients. In gyms, hundreds of hands are touching the weights, the buttons on the treadmills, the door handles, etc.

But it's not only touching that you have to worry about. People are also sweating, spitting, bleeding, and spreading germs like crazy just by the basic activities that are performed in gyms.


There are many articles written on how to avoid germs at the gym. I've found a couple to support the rules that I use myself. And my rules are fairly basic.

Lauren Brown wrote "Avoid Gym Germs" for Women's Health Magazine and a few of her rules resonated:

Don't Go Barefoot: bring flip flops or some sort of shower shoe to wear in the dressing rooms and the showers.

Cover Up Cuts: make sure that if you have any cuts or breaks in your skin that you cover them with bandages to keep them as clean as possible.

Disinfect: disinfect the equipment you use and yourselves! Most gyms provide wipes and/or sprays with paper towels for patrons to use on the equipment. Make sure you wipe down before and after you use equipment. Try to wipe down anything that you have touched or that will be touched by others.

Shower After: as soon as you are able after your workout, put your clothing in the wash and put yourself in the shower. Germs can be transferred from anything that you touch with your hands, body and clothing. Clean up as soon as possible.

An article written by Elizabeth Quinn for SportsMedicine.com also supports the "clean is best" claims by providing these tips:

Wash your hands frequently: while many fitness facilities provide hand sanitizer dispensers, there's a benefit to using good old soap and water.

Avoid putting your hands near your eyes, nose and mouth: we don't even realize how often we touch our eyes, noses and mouths - but we do. And if we've just finished using a piece of equipment and (without thinking) touch our face, we have potentially just transferred germs. Try to be very aware of touching your face.

Clean your shared spaces: I cannot stress this enough - it is the responsibility of anyone and everyone using the equipment at a gym to clean the area before and after. That is for your protection, as well as the protection of others.

This goes for group fitness classes, too! Wipe down your mat and the handles of any hand weights or other equipment you might use.

Research proves that exercise can boost your immune system. So it can only help to keep our gym habits strong, right along with our muscles.