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Protecting People in Your Environment

infection prevention

Athletes who work out regularly face more exposure to potential infections than the average person. From sweaty clothes to contaminated equipment, the gym is a hotbed for fungal germs. These people go to get fit, but sometimes end up sick instead. Here are some tips all athletes can practice for gym infection prevention.

Protect Your Skin

Always wear clothing or place a barrier between your skin and surfaces. Wear flip-flops or shower shoes in wet areas, place a towel on a weight bench, and use gloves when handling weights. If you have a cut, keep it well-covered and dry until it heals, properly dressing the wound according to your doctor’s instructions. Avoid hot tubs, saunas, or whirlpools if you have a wound, as you could put yourself at risk for catching something worse in the water.

Bring Your Own Gear

The yoga class you’re attending may seem relaxing, but those mats may pose a risk. They don’t get cleaned between classes and could be responsible for the spread of several bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. Bring your own mat or exercise gear to be sure what you’re touching isn’t already infected before you use it. Make sure your gear fits you properly and isn’t likely to cause or exacerbate an infection.

Be Hygienic

Before playing sports or handling shared equipment like barbells, balls, or mats, wash your hands with soap and warm water. At the very least, sanitize your hands. Don’t stand around in your sweaty clothes either. Make sure you shower after you’re done or after using a hot tub or pool. Never use communal bar soaps; bring your own or only use liquid soaps.

Do Laundry

Sweaty clothes, swimsuits, and towels are a breeding ground for germs. Separate the damp clothing from your dry gear and make sure you wash them each time you wear them. Experts recommend using the hottest washer and dryer settings to make sure the germs are killed.

Don’t Share

This should go without saying, but don’t share personal items. Never share towels, razors, bar soap, clothing, shoes, deodorants, or anything else that touches bare skin

Clean the Equipment

preventing infectionsPeople exercising rarely have close personal contact with other people at the gym. However, everyone uses the same equipment, including exercise balls, bikes, and weight machines. While gyms typically clean everything regularly, gym users should take that extra step to protect themselves Wipe down gym equipment with sprays or a wipe containing at least 60% alcohol before and after you use it.

Know the Symptoms

Infections can happen to even the most vigilant. Be certain you can identify the signs of an infection before it becomes worse. Keep an eye on bruises, scratches, or cuts that become inflamed or tender. Be aware of the symptoms of an infection in those exercising around you so you can reduce the risk of becoming infected.

Sometimes infections can’t be avoided. However, athletes practicing good hygiene, properly using and cleaning equipment, and remaining aware of what risks they are exposed to, are less likely to find themselves benched due to illness.

Additional Resources:
https://www.consumerreports.org/conditions-treatments/skin-infections-how-to-avoid-at-the-gym/
https://www.menshealth.com/health/infections-at-gym/slide/5
https://www.outsideonline.com/1811976/5-tips-avoid-skin-infections-gym
https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/on-fitness/2008/10/28/6-ways-to-avoid-infections-at-the-gym
https://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2012/04/25/dont-get-sick-at-the-gym-7-ways-to-prevent-infection
https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/safe-workout-tips
https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/11/18/how-to-avoid-infections-at-the-gym.aspx
https://www.forbes.com/2008/01/26/health-germs-gym-forbeslife-cx_avd_0128health.html