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Germs at the gym

Don’t let germs at the gym make you sick

Going to gym is supposed to make you healthier, but can germs at the gym make you sick? While regular exercise can improve cardiovascular health, reduce stress levels and boost your mood, the gym can also make you sick if you’re not careful. From the common cold to strep throat to ringworm, germs like viruses, bacteria and fungi thrive in moist, sweaty, heavily-populated environments. Here are a few reasons why:

FACT: Germs can travel up to six feet, so it is wise to distance yourself from people who seem ill or who are coughing and/or sneezing. These germs not only linger in the air, they cling to all the equipment as well.

FACT: Some germs can live on dry surfaces for several hours and on moist surfaces for up to three days.

FACT: Germs can enter the body through the mouth, nose, eyes and breaks in the skin.

Hand hygiene at the gym

Philicia Andrews, M.D., a primary care physician at Piedmont, stresses the importance of hand hygiene.

“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of hand-washing. It is critical to avoiding germs anywhere you go,” she says. “It is also wise to choose a gym that appears to have a culture that promotes cleanliness, like having hand sanitizer stations and accessible spray bottles to wipe down equipment.”

Tips to avoid gym germs

  • Bring your own exercise mat from home and wipe it down after each visit.
  • Wipe down all equipment after each use. This includes anything you or a fellow gym-goer may touch, such as the handles, buttons, seat or bench.
  • Shower immediately after you work out. This is the fastest way to get bacteria off your skin.
  • Use your own bath supplies, especially your own towel, razor and shower shoes.
  • If you have an open cuts or wounds, keep it covered.
  • If you bring your own towel from home, wash it after each use.

“Exercise plays a key role in boosting the immune system, so the benefits far outweigh the germ factor, says Dr. Andrews. “Do not let gym germs keep you away.”

Dr. Andrews practices at Piedmont Physicians Medical Park Drive, located at 3825 Medical Park Drive, Suite 301, Austell, GA 30106. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrews or one of our other primary care providers. Save time, book online.


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