You probably aren’t thinking about getting sick from a visit to your gym, but the truth is that athletes and gym users are at a higher risk of contracting an infection, such as staph or others. Considering that more than 70% of the bacteria found on gym equipment is harmful to humans, it’s not surprising!
A staph infection can develop quickly. Staph bacteria can cause a nasty rash or if it enters your bloodstream through an open source, it could cause a severe, and sometimes deadly, infection. Staph is spread easily in gyms by skin-to-skin contact with an infected individual and through contact with contaminated items athletic equipment (dumbbells to cardio machines), the gym floor, towels, the locker room, and showers.
You might be reading this thinking, “This is a great reason not to go to the gym!” Sorry, you’re not off the hook so easily. There are simple measures you can take to greatly reduce the risk of getting a staph or any other type of infection at the gym. Below we give you five easy steps to prevent getting bacterial infections, like staph, or fungal infections, like athlete’s foot, while at the gym.
1 Clean the Equipment
Did you know that free weights contain 362 times more bacteria than a toilet seat? Equipment that hasn’t been cleaned and disinfected properly is the cause of many infections, including staph. Gym signage and staff members encourage you to clean gym equipment routinely — make sure you to follow their guidelines! Before and after you use any piece of equipment, including the exercise balls, yoga mats, free weights, and machines, wipe down and disinfect with a disinfecting spray or solution.
When cleaning the equipment, it’s important to use a high quality disinfectant spray to ensure all of the germs are gone before and after each use. For example, Clear Gear Spray is a disinfecting and deodorizing spray that kills 99.9% of germs that cause infections and odors. It gets rid of harmful germs and bacteria like staph, and kills odors. But it doesn’t corrode equipment and it doesn’t have an offensive smell while you are working out.
2 Don’t Share
From the time you were a kid, it was ingrained that “you have to share!” When it comes to sports and using the gym, you get a free pass: don’t share anything — unless you want to share a staph infection. This includes someone else’s towel, clothes, water bottle, razor, bar soap, or other toiletries. Many gym goers bring their own yoga mat even though the gym offers them for your use. It’s a good investment to make to help reduce your exposure to germs. Of course, it’s important to clean your own yoga mat, too, as it comes in contact with the gym floor.
3 Take a Shower, Right Away!
When possible, don’t wait around in your gym clothes too long after you workout, especially if you’ve been using the gym equipment. Taking a shower as quick as you can will help clear your body of bacteria that could cause infection. If you use the gym’s shower, bring your own soap to use.
While in the shower, wear shower shoes or flip-flops. Walking around barefoot in a public shower can lead to problems like athlete’s foot, or a staph infection if there’s a cut on your foot. Some gyms don’t clean their locker rooms and shower facilities as often as they should, so it’s important to take steps to protect yourself.
4 Think Twice About Taking a Dip
Some germs thrive in hot water and steamy, moist environments like the hot tub, pool, sauna, and steam room. In a gym, where these areas are shared by many people, the potential for germs is higher. If you do decide to use these services, be sure to shower off immediately afterward. Take special caution — and consider skipping altogether — if you have a cut, scrape, or open wound.
5 Pay Attention to Your Symptoms
If you do go to the gym, and especially if you have a cut, scrape, or wound on your body, make sure to pay attention to your body and monitor its progress. If you see boils develop, redness of the skin, or rashes start to form, you may have a staph infection and should seek a physician’s care immediately. Staph can lead to other deadly infections if not treated immediately.
You can also learn more about your gym’s cleanliness by asking the front desk gym staff about their disinfecting protocols and the products they use. You might suggest they use a disinfectant and deodorizer like Clear Gear Spray, which kills 99.9% of germs and odors without leaving a strong lingering scent.
When you follow these five steps, you can work out at the gym without the fear of contracting a staph infection or fungal infection. Exercising at a gym is a great way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Workout safely and be cautious about what you share with people, how you wash your body and clean your gear and equipment, and you will be more likely to stay fit and healthy!