Avoiding Sickness at the Gym

March 20, 2015 Updated: March 19, 2015

Working out should make you feel stronger and healthier – not weaken you immune system from sweat and germs on shared equipment. Unfortunately, most fitness facilities are bacterial breeding grounds caused by a “perfect storm” of close contact and moisture. While washing your hands regularly (for a full 20 seconds) is one of the best barriers to germ sharing, there are even more actions to take ownership of your health during cold and flu season.

It’s easy to play the blame game and point fingers at your sneezing peers when you come down with a cold, but ultimately your health is your responsibility. Here are a few tips that might keep you well this season:

1.Don’t Touch Your Face

Bacteria and viruses get into your system through the eyes, nose and mouth. If you remember to keep your face out of contact with your hands, the floor, etc., you’ll be less likely to pick up unwelcome hitchhikers. Invest in your own mat for floor exercises and regularly clean it with a sanitizing wipe.

2.Stay Vigilant

Do some military-style reconnaissance, observe your surroundings and pay attention to fellow members that are coughing or sneezing. If you notice anyone with symptoms consistent with the cold or flu, keep your distance.

3.Sanitize Equipment

It’s common courtesy to wipe down gym equipment with a sanitization towel after you’ve finished using it, especially if you were sweating profusely. But next time, wipe it down before use as well. And remember, not just any wipes are recommended for our equipment. Products containing bleach can damage the paint and pads causing unnecessary wear and costly replacement.

Life Fitness engineers test Gym Wipes on our equipment and give it their stamp of approval. They’re available for order from customer support at 800-351-3737, or directly from Gym Wipes. Customers have several ordering and refill options depending on their specific needs.

If your gym isn’t stocked with sanitizing wipes, make a suggestion to the facility manager. If you’re not sure that materials are available at your gym, bring your own hand sanitizer. There will likely be germs you need protection from in the locker room.

4.Avoid Being Part of the Problem

Stay away from the gym when you’re sick just like you stay away from work when you’re sick. Keep your germs contained at home so you don’t spread the misery. We all want to be active and avoid those extra winter pounds, but it’s more important to choose rest over exercise when under the weather.

If you’re not sure if some cold or flu-like symptoms mean that you’re “sick,” follow a few rules of thumb that we highlighted in a previous fit tip.

Good luck! Oh, and wash your hands!

Source: lifefitness.com/blog. Visit the Life Fitness blog for more health and fitness information. 

*Image of “woman” via Shutterstock