Spinning classes, kettle bells, free weights as well as fitness balls all have one thing in common besides getting you in shape: They can also get you sick, thanks to germs that other gym-goers leave behind. Yes, you may be getting more than flat abs and strong arms!

Norovirus, which causes stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhoea, can survive for a month on the surface of an exercise machine. Fungi responsible for foot infections multiply at a staggering pace in the shower and steam room. And, lurking in the locker room could be microbes like MRSA, an antibiotic resistant bacteria that can lead to skin infections.

There are plenty of smart tricks to keep germs at bay while you get in shape.

Wipe gym equipment with disinfectant before and after use

Make sure to carry an antibacterial wipe or spray with you at all times. Also, wash your hands before and after your workout with soap and water or an antibacterial hand gel.

Drink water from your own reusable bottle

Norovirus is highly contagious and can easily be spread via the communal water fountain. Fellow gym-goers might hit the fountain with their mouths – and some even spit in it. Refrain from using the water fountain by bringing a reusable bottle from home (preferably one that you have filled at home). Also be careful of constantly opening and closing the bottle – You’ll transfer germs from your hands to the bottle, and ultimately, to your mouth. Choose a bottle that can be easily pulled open with your mouth instead of your hands. Wash in the dishwasher daily and store it in the fridge. Germs are likely to form when the bottle is warm.

Wear flip-flops in the shower

Floors in the gym’s shower are germ central. Fungal infections are quick to spread, so make sure that your feet are never in direct contact with the floor. Shower at home as soon as you get there. If you do shower at the gym, use antimicrobial soap. Never shave there; bugs can enter your body through tiny nicks. Never sit on the locker room bench naked.

Always wear goggles and a swimming cap or earplugs in the pool

Your gym should post data on the pH testing and cleaning of the pool. If that info is not available, let your nose guide you. Because chlorine releases its distinct smell as it reacts with microorganisms, the stronger the chlorine scent, the dirtier the water.

Cover any cuts or broken skin with a bandage before you go to gym

If you have even the smallest crack in your skin, you could end up with an infection.

Avoid touching your face

Your hands are the most likely part of your body to come in contact with germs. Make sure to use your own clean towel to wipe down sweat.

Keep your distance

Crowded fitness classes make it easy to inhale germs. When heading for the cardio equipment during non-peak times, choose a machine that’s not right beside someone else.

Bring your own workout mat

If you’re going to use the mat provided by the gym, be sure to sanitize it with an antibacterial wipe and place a clean towel on top of it. Buy non slip shoes for yoga so you don’t have to work out with bare feet.

Disinfect your gym bag

Keep dirty clothes and sneakers in separate gym bag compartments or place sweaty duds in a plastic bag. Disease causing microbes can latch on every time you place it on the bench, in a locker, or on the floor. Choose vinal or plastic gym bags. Germs and bacteria are less likely to adhere to these materials. Swab your bag inside and out with antibacterial wipes or a spray.

You can protect yourself against germs at the gym by following a few simple rules. Happy exercising!

The information on Fedhealth Medical Aid is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.

Source: www.fitnessmagazine.com, www.huffingtonpost.com

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.