If you’re in the habit of going to the gym, give yourself a pat on the back! It’s a great way to maintain your health and fitness, so you’re right to be feelin’ good about exercising. But are you paying as much attention to gym hygiene as you are to your workout form? If not, that needs to change, or you could be subjecting yourself and your workout buddies to some pretty nasty infections. If you’re not sure where to start on gym hygiene—or if you’re not positive it’s worth your time—here’s what you need to know before your next workout.
Speaking of possible gym drawbacks, here are some tips that might help you: Preventing the Negative Effects of Exercise
Why You Need to Worry About Gym Hygiene
Practicing good gym hygiene is all about keeping germs at bay. But the possible presence of bacteria at the gym isn’t just gross to think about. It could also affect your health in a way that could mean you’d be out of commission for weeks or months—meaning no gym time for a while! This is because unsanitary conditions at the gym can result in viruses and bacteria getting a little too close to you, causing illnesses or even skin infections. Fungus at the gym could also mean you catch fungal infections like athlete’s foot or ringworm, which can take weeks to treat.
Maybe you know about the risks of poor gym hygiene, but you’re not concerned because your gym seems pretty clean. Well, you might be surprised. One survey in the UK found that out of 2,000 people:
- 74 percent had seen other gym members not wipe down their equipment
- 49 percent had used someone else’s water bottle or towel while working out
- 18 percent had worked out at the gym while sick
- 16 percent didn’t wash their exercise clothing after every workout
These same gym hygiene issues could be going on at your gym! Even if you’re perfectly hygienic, you don’t know if that’s true of the person on the treadmill to your right…or to your left, or in front of you! You get the gist, right? Basically, you have to take gym hygiene into your own hands if you want to steer clear of germs.
Keep Your Hands Clean
This is one is easy, but you might be surprised at how few people wash their hands before or after working out. After all, you’re touching a lot of items that hundreds of other people touch every day, from workout machines to weights and mats. So wash your hands with soap and water, or at least bring some hand sanitizer so you can get your hands clean without interrupting your workout too much.
Keep Your Workout Gear Clean
Now that your hands are clean, do the same for your workout gear! First, make sure you wash your workout clothes after every visit to the gym. Letting them sit for days before being washed will allow bacteria and even fungus to grow—especially if they’re damp when you throw them in the hamper. And leaving them in your gym bag is even worse, because your bag may start to grow fungus! If you can’t wash your workout clothes right away, throw them in a plastic bag before putting them in your gym bag. Do the same with your tennis shoes, and then once you get home, wipe them down with an antibacterial wipe and let them dry outside.
Clean Off the Gym Equipment
Most gyms try to make it easy for their customers to keep the equipment clean, as they provide spray bottles and towels—or simply disinfectant wipes—for wiping everything down. If you see these supplies at your gym, use them! In fact, wipe down the equipment before and after you use it, just in case the person before or after you doesn’t do this. If your gym always seems to be out of these supplies, consider bringing your own wipes so you can still maintain proper gym hygiene.
Take a Shower Right After Your Workout
On the off chance some germs manage to make it home with you—despite your carefully practicing all these tips—a shower should finish them off. This way, you know you’re not bringing home bacteria, viruses, or fungi to live on your skin or hair. If you feel comfortable taking a shower at your gym, do that. Otherwise, just take one as soon as you get home. And don’t forget to toss your clothes in the hamper and wash them as soon as possible if you want impeccable gym hygiene!
Do you practice these gym hygiene tips already, or do you have any others to share?
If you want a break from worrying about gym hygiene, try exercising outside: Do These Outdoor Activities to Maximize Summer