Your doctor told you to get some exercise, so you go to the gym, but you end up with more than you bargained for. Fitness facilities can be icky germ factories. I’m armed with tips on how to get fit without getting sick.
Breeding Grounds for a Wide Variety of Germs
Fitness studios or gyms may be places to get healthy, but they’re also breeding grounds for a host of germs — particularly Staphylococcus bacteria or “staph”.
A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found 25 different categories of bacteria lurking in fitness centers.
Why Germs Thrive
Cold and flu season will be creeping up on us again soon, so beware of those coughers and sneezers who can quickly spread viruses from one treadmill to the next.
But… the majority of germs that people pick up at their favorite fitness studio are those that affect the skin.
Bacteria, fungi, and viruses that cause skin infections thrive in SWEAT. Warm, moist areas are particularly problematic.
Sweat gets left behind on:
- Exercise equipment (from rowers to reformers, weights, and boxing gloves to basketballs), mats, and machines
- Handrails, towels
- Saunas, showers, swimming pool decks
- Locker room benches, toilet/door handles
The Most Common Germs
The following skin problems are the most common ones you can pick up at a fitness facility:
1. Athlete’s Foot and Jock Itch
- Blame these conditions on fungus.
- Fungi (pronounced “fun-guy”) reproduce through tiny spores in the air. That means, you can inhale the spores or they can land on you! As a result, fungal infections often begin in your lungs or on your skin. That means they’re easy to get and PASS AROUND.
- Fungi, the plural for fungus, live and reproduce in the air, in soil and water, on plants… and on YOU. Those embarrassing health conditions mentioned above are caused by an excessive amount of fungus growing on the surface of your skin. Think of that fuzzy green mold that grows on decaying old fruit hiding in the back of your frig or the mildew that grows on shower walls. Same idea.
- Only half of them are harmful, but they can be annoying, ITCHY and difficult to kill. If you have a circulation problem, weakened immune system, diabetes, or take antibiotics, you may be more likely to get a fungal infection. (Antibiotics may disrupt the balance of natural microflora in your system which causes fungi to overpopulate.) It’s important to get treatment at the first sign of a problem.
2. Hot-Tub Rash
- When levels of disinfectants (like chlorine) are too low in swimming pools and hot tubs, you can get an itchy red rash from the bacteria that you pick up.
3. Plantar Warts
- This virus infects feet, so don’t go barefoot in the locker room, gym showers, or exercise studios.
4. Impetigo (im-pe-TEE-go)
- This HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS infection is caused by a staph or strep bacteria.
- It gets into your body through broken skin (a cut, scrape or insect bite).
- Transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, contaminated towels, and sports equipment.
5. Staph Infections and MRSA Continue reading “KRON 4 | Germs You Get from Gyms”