Whether you are new to the mat, or a well-known patron of the gym-it is always important to know the dos and do-nots of gym hygiene. What you do before, during, and after a workout can affect your health in more ways than one. The equipment and common areas can become very unhygienic over time, especially if people forget to wipe the seats and handle down. You can stop the spread of germs and keep the place a nice environment for yourself and everyone else with these simple guidelines:
- Number one on the list? If you are feeling sick, please stay home! That is at the top of our list because it is the most important. Although there have been studies into how exercise and “sweating” it out while you are sick can make you feel better faster, it does not mean that you have to share your germs with others. Germs can spread fast in a gym, especially when people are sweating or breathing hard during exercise. You can always work out and pump up your cardiovascular health at home until you feel better and get back into the gym where you want to be.
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. This one may sound a bit obvious, but many people may not even think about washing their hands at the gym. You go to the gym to get healthy and exercise, so you may become so focused on your workout that spreading common illness can become the last thing on your mind. Cleaning your hands before you begin a workout will limit the germs that you bring in with you, and washing your hands after will greatly reduce the germs that you take out with you when you leave. Simple as that!
- Wipe down the equipment. We are not talking about giving each machine a full wash, of course, just a quick wipe down. Most, if not all, gyms will provide you with antibacterial wipes (or spray and towels) that are provided for just that purpose. Before you start, wipe any areas that you will come into direct contact with. That includes handles, read-out screens, benches, and seats. Wiping footholds or pedals is not necessary since your fitness shoes will protect you from contact. Clothes alone though, are not enough to keep you clean. Sweat can transfer germs just as fast as spit, so be aware and keep it clean. When you are done, reset the machine back to zero, take off any excess resistance or weight, and then wipe it down before walking away. You may not have to clean the machine when you arrive, but you should always leave clean equipment when you are done, it is the considerate thing to do!
- Give your fellow gym members some space. This has two benefits: it is polite, and it is hygienic. If there are plenty of treadmills available, there is no reason to jump onto one right next to someone else. That can make others feel crowded, and the limited space will mean you guys are more likely to swap sweat (and germs!) during your workout.
- Shower if you can. Whenever possible, you should shower right after you are done working out. You have no idea what kind of grime and dirt you will carry with you when you leave, and how much of it is yours or a stranger’s. Take a quick rinse to wash off and refresh. Plus a little warm water could be nice for sore muscles! Just make sure to pack some cheap flip-flops in your gym bag. Skin diseases can be transferred from person to person via the shower floor. Simply elevating your feet, and avoiding direct skin contact with the floor, can prevent the spread of those problems. A two-dollar pair of sandals can save you a lot of grief later down the line.
Hopefully you have learned a trick or two to keep you happy and healthy at the gym. No one is saying that you should become germaphobic and over-think everything you use at the gym. Just a few quick things like washing your hands and wiping the equipment can save you from many lost workouts because of a cold or flu. And your fellow gym patrons will thank you for keeping it clean for them as well.
Overall, it really comes down to being considerate of others at the gym, and being aware of your habits. Encouraging healthy habits is important to KURU, and we know that small things can add up to healthier living. That is why the KURUSOLE™ technology in each of our best walking shoes was created to fit your unique foot shape and give you all the support you need to tackle your everyday victories without the fear of pain.