How to Dodge Germs at the Gym

How to Dodge Germs at the Gym

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by staying active can provide tremendous positive benefits on our mind and body. During these unprecedented times, more and more people are craving the endorphin high and break from reality that working out brings. As the country has begun to open up, many of us have gone back to our local gyms to get back into our workout routine. For those of us who might be fearful before they head back to their weight lifting or workout class regime, we have good news. Even though the world looks a little different, there are still ways you can stay safe from germs while getting your workout fix.

We've identified some things you can do to reduce the likelihood of exposure to germs while you're at the gym so you can ensure that you can get that workout you've been looking for and reduce your risk.

Germs and Bacteria at the Gym is Not New News

It’s no secret that germs are everywhere; the question is how can we limit our exposure to germs in an environment where there are shared equipment devices from one person to the next?

Right now, the government is urging people to practice constant hygiene to ensure a safe experience for everyone. We are encouraged, and in many states, mandated to wear masks while being around other people to protect our communities.

Gyms are an obvious place where germs lurk, people are sweating, breathing heavily, touching their faces to wipe sweat away and using shared equipment like exercise machines and weights. Gyms are essentially breeding grounds for some of the nastiest germs that can pop up from time to time, which means that even in normal times you need to be cautious and careful in how you interact with others and equipment to stay healthy.

If you are interested in going back to the gym now, let’s figure out a few ways to protect yourself while working out.

General Gym Germ Guidelines

The first rule of staying safe while at the gym is to not touch your face. Here’s why — bacteria enters our bodies through our eyes, nose, and mouth. Perhaps bring a towel to wipe your face to reduce the urge to use your hands. It's a good idea to wash this towel when you get home so you're not using the same towel with germs multiple days in a row. In addition, strive to make this towel be your dedicated gym towel. If you're using it to wipe off the germs at the gym and then use it a couple hours later to wipe your face, there's a chance that you're going to get sick, so avoid using it for multiple things other than your typical gym workout.

Second, it’s important to note that viruses can live on surfaces for days, and sweat breeds bacteria. These two things combined create a cocktail of germs. Think about bringing a few disinfectant wipes to wipe down surfaces of objects you touch before and after. Clean equipment is one of the biggest complaints from gym-goers, as a survey conducted by Treadmill Reviews highlighted that over half of their survey respondents mentioned equipment that wasn't wiped down properly as one of their three chief complaints. That's why it's important that you make it a priority to wipe down equipment and be mindful that other gym go-ers might not be wiping down the equipment after they use it.

Many gyms and workout venues across the country are doing their part to also reduce the risk of their gym go-ers and members. One way in which they're doing this is by providing disinfectant wipes or spray throughout the gym. One way you can check to see what actions your gym or fitness center is doing to help reduce risk and exposure to those germs is by simply calling them and asking what steps they're taking. In addition, many of the larger gym and fitness chains have this information readily available on their website.

It’s important to keep yourself safe, while also making sure you’re doing your best not to spread your own germs to everyone else.

This should go without saying, but do not share your towel! Your face or body towel is for your sweat and your sweat only. Also, resist the convenience of wiping down a surface with your towel instead of your disinfectant wipe. This will only risk exposure to the germs from the exercise machine or surface as we mentioned earlier.

Another quick tip is to sanitize your mobile phone after working out. If you fail to do so, the germs from all of the communal exercise equipment could be transferred to your ear when you’re talking on the phone. Sanitizing your phone is a quick and easy way to wipe away germs that can be harmful. If you choose to drop your keys and wallet by the exercise machines or equipment you're using, it can also be a good idea to sanitize these to wipe away the germs that might have collected on those items as well.

Some of the Dirtiest Equipment at the Gym

While gyms can often be dirty across the board, there are some culprits that can be extra germy that you should be aware of. Some of the most common germ spots for equipment are the ones that receive the most use and transferral between gym patrons. As an example, plenty of germs can be found on contact hotspots like handles, dumbbells, exercise balls, weight machine seats, contact points on machines like on/off buttons, and more.

In addition, other contact areas in which germs can develop over time include handlebars, drinking machines, fans, safety straps, or resistance bands.

Before you use a piece of equipment, think about all the ways in which someone else before you could have used it and be mindful that you need to sanitize those areas. It's better to be safe than sorry when you're dealing with germs, so don't be afraid to sanitize equipment before you use it.

An Alarming Germ Study at the Gym

Germs like staph bacterial, fungal infections and viruses have been known to linger on gym equipment. We know that gyms are filled with germs due to athletes sweating and sharing machines, but how dirty can they really be?

An equipment review site called Filtrated, collected samples from a few common gym machines and equipment such as: treadmills, exercise bikes and free weights to analyze how many germs are found on the surface of these objects. The analysis discovered that over 70 percent of the bacteria found on these objects were harmful to the human body by creating skin infections or illnesses. The review found that there are typically 362 times more germs on free weights than a toilet seat — yuck!

What Does the CDC Recommend at Gyms Right Now?

Right now, the Center for Disease Control recommends that individuals who are going to the gym should follow a few guidelines to ensure a safe experience for everyone. The first tip is to call ahead or check the exercise facility’s website to see if there is a way to check-in ahead of time to avoid lingering in a lobby with other gym attendees.

Before you go into the gym, perhaps assess the safety of the gym inside; so you can make an informed decision and determine if you are comfortable to exercise inside of their facility. A few questions to ask might be: Are the staff wearing masks? Are other gym-goers wearing masks? Do you feel comfortable with the safety precautions or lack of precautions you are seeing staff take? What kind of cleaning and sanitizing solutions are available or are you going to bring your own? Be prepared that the locker rooms might be closed due to close contact, so make sure to plan for that!

A great way to reduce the risk of germs at this time is to work out in a facility outdoors or with a lot of fresh air flowing in. It’s important to keep at least six feet distance with other gym members to not spread germs. Make sure you wipe down your machine and your hands with sanitizer that has at least 60 percent alcohol and do not share equipment that cannot be sanitized.

Lastly, check to see if your gym is limiting class capacity. If so, they are doing this to ensure everyone is social distancing in classes and limiting exposure to germs that are not their own!

As always when sharing equipment with others, make sure to wash your hands frequently, wipe down your equipment and avoid touching your face.

How to Keep Yourself Safe?

You are in control of yourself and your actions — so it’s up to you to make the gym a safe space. If you are unsure if you’re ready to get back into the gym, there are many at-home workouts available that give you the same tough workout you can get in a gym! Working out at home takes away the transfer of germs between people and can help you stay active and healthy.

Check in with yourself before visiting a gym to assess if you feel comfortable. There is no rush, there will always be a wide array of workout classes online! You can also connect with a physical therapist virtually through our telehealth physical therapy service to see what kind of exercises and stretches a physical therapist recommends you to try and perform while you're exercising from home. Schedule an appointment today to connect with a physical therapist!

COVID- 19 Safety Precautions We Are Taking

If you are experiencing pain or stiffness from an injury while trying to get back into your workout routine (or even develop a new one) — our therapists are here to help! We want to ensure all of our patients and physical therapists are safe and healthy, which is why we are taking COVID-19 precautions very seriously. Rest assured, our goal is to limit exposure and decrease the sharing of germs between our patients, our staff, and objects in our clinics.

Here are a few of the things we are doing to keep our clinics safe:

  • Requiring all staff and patients wear facemasks.
  • Wiping down all surfaces after each use (this includes all door handles), as well as any equipment that was touched.
  • Switching all linens in between each patient.
  • Gloves available for patients using equipment
  • Hand sanitizer is available at all of our clinics; staff is instructed to use between patients.
  • Screening patients to evaluate symptoms, including temperature checks at each visit.
  • Removed waiting room chairs to allow for social distancing and encourage patients to wait outside or in their cars until their appointment times.

If you are still a feeling hesitant to come to an in-clinic session or not feeling your best, we are also happy to treat you through virtual therapy via telehealth!

Posted by AlphaGraphics Order Team at 11:40 AM
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