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Bring your own yoga mat to the gym? Or wipe down after a session?

Bring your own yoga mat to the gym? Or wipe down after a session?

Gyms are sweaty places. And they’re set to get even busier, and sweatier. Not a problem if you wipe and go or bring your own mat. But many of us don’t. Should we stop stressing about it? Or is it germ warfare?

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

Not to be all alarmist about it, but yes there are germs lurking in gyms. Most of these are minor, such as colds, athlete’s foot and skin infections. But some are more serious, such as herpes and staphylococcus bacteria.

WHAT ARE THE RISKY AREAS?

Items that are handled more, like free weights, weight machines and exercise balls, are more likely to harbour bugs and viruses that can lead to colds and infections. Bacteria lingers on exercise mats after people use them. The locker room, water bottle and towels are also germ hotspots.

SHOULD I BE WORRIED?

Honestly? No.

Whilst you can pick up infections from gyms, they’re more likely to be from your own hygiene practices.

Eating lunch before washing your hands? Not good. Sweaty, unwashed socks and not letting your feet dry out? Hello fungus infections! But it’s nothing handwashing and regular sock changes can’t fix.

Even the most serious bacteria, such as staph, rarely cause problems. Infections are passed on through cuts in your skin, and most are passed from person to person, not surface to person.

HOW CAN I MINIMISE MY RISK OF CATCHING SOMETHING?

While gyms do their best to wipe down equipment and mats at the beginning and end of each day, it’s impractical to clean them after every workout. Accept that germs are there – then wash your hands and kit after your workout, especially before eating your sandwich.

Still feeling cautious?

  • Take your own wipes or disinfectant spray to clean the handles and seats of equipment and exercise mats before you use them.
  • Use your own mat, water bottle and wear flip flops.
  • Use a microbial towel and a plastic gymbag – germs are less likely to linger on these.
  • Cover any cuts with a bandage

To help you with your fitness goals checkout our flexible gym memberhip options designed to fit fitness around you to make life work out.

Photo by Form on Unsplash

the author

Jessica Ambrose

Jessica is a fitness writer who loves long distance running, yoga, strength training and healthy eating.

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