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Germs and the Gym

Posted on May 17 2013

The gym is a place where we go to exercise and to improve our bodies to make sure they are healthy, but can going to the gym make you sick? The answer is yes! The gym is filled with thousands of germs and contaminated surfaces, such as door handles, shower floors, the check-in desk and water fountains. The most common germs that were found in gyms are the norovirus, which is the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis and the life threatening superbug MRSA (which can cause extremely hard to treat infections).

Stay away from the water fountains while visiting the gym. Typically, the handles can become extremely contaminated by a several different types of germs, including norovirus. The norovirus can survive up to 4 weeks on the infected surface. It is a good idea to bring alcohol wipes to sanitize the spout and the handle before you drink, or just bring your own water bottle with water from home and avoid the water fountain all together. Always clean your water bottle with hot soapy water daily to avoid germs.

If you’re a fan of the fitness balls at the gym know that they contain several germs. Any high-contact surface is a risk of highly infectious germs. Fitness balls are infested with germs, like staphylococcus aureus, which causes staph infections. The good news here is that you can only be affected by this if you have an open cut and stay away from touching your face. The cycling bikes also have the same soft material that contains germs ranging from MRSA to strep to E. coli, yuck! Again, bring those antibacterial wipes with you and wipe down everything before you use it!

Steam rooms are also a cesspool for germs. The hot, steamy air in the room is likely to be the best place for germs to grow, but putting your feet on the floor should be the biggest concern. You don’t know what fungus is growing on other people’s feet and when they are walking around barefoot on these floors they are contaminating the floor. If you have any cuts on your feet you could be at risk for infection. Also, never sit naked on the benches in a steam room because by doing so you can contract a series of viruses, including human papillomavirus (HPV). Sit on a towel and always wear flip flops to protect yourself from unwanted infections!

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