Bacteria and fungus flourish in these hot spotsBy: Jennifer Weaver
You’d hope to walk out of the gym feeling invigorated, but instead, you may leave feeling…itchy. Bacteria and fungus thrive on the workout floor, and without taking precautions, they’ll hitch a ride on your body. (Search:15-minute total body workouts)
“Skin infections or outbreaks tend to occur in places where there are a lot of people in close quarters, like locker rooms and gyms,” says Jack Foley, athletic trainer and Director of Sports Medicine at Lehigh University. Shield yourself from these bacteria breeding grounds. Beware—we spared no details. (Related: 9 Surprising Ways to Avoid Germs at the Gym)
More: Get nutrition tips, fitness guides, and beauty secrets for free
The place we go to get clean isn’t always so sparkling itself. “Moist areas like showers and spa decks often harbor fungi, bacteria, and viruses,” says Foley. Staph could also be living in this area.
Protect yourself: Wear flip-flops in the shower and wash up with an antimicrobial liquid soap to eliminate any germs you may have picked up during your workout.
Video: The sexiest way to burn calories
Next time you think about plopping down in your birthday suit, watch out. Countertops, walls, mirrors, and benches harbor germs and bacteria. “People in gyms are more likely to get a bacterial infection such as staph if they have skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or if they touch commonly used surfaces,” says Foley.
Protect yourself: Wash your hands immediately after working out. Always sit on a clean towel when using the sauna or getting dressed, Foley suggests.
Use this tool to avoid hidden calorie bombs
Padding along barefoot in the locker room or yoga studio makes you susceptible to athlete’s foot. The infection develops when a fungus known as trichophyton rubrum sneaks into the moist crevices between the toes and causes feet to crack or develop itchy red scales.
Protect yourself: Always wear shoes in the gym and locker room, and keep toes clean and dry.
Exercise machines are some of the grossest places in the gym—maybe even the world. “Sweat left to dry on equipment is a potential breeding ground for the transmission of organisms and infection,” says Foley.
Protect Yourself: Wash your hands frequently, and make sure your gym is doing its part by wiping down its machines regularly. Take the extra precaution of disinfecting equipment with antimicrobial wipes before you use it.Log your workouts with this free tool
It’s sad but true: You’re wearing one of the ickiest items on the workout floor. Hanging out in sweaty shorts and shirts for too long can fuel the growth of yeast in sensitive places, says Thomas Rohrer, MD, a dermatologist in Chestnut Hill, MA. Yeast thrives on moisture and in warm environments, making the skin under the breasts and on the groin a target for scaly red spots.
Protect yourself: Change out of exercise clothes, particularly sweat-drenched underwear and shorts, right after your workout, Rohrer suggests.Detox your gym gear
Your water bottle really gets around—it’s thrown in your bag, set on the gym floor, toted into the locker room, and sprinkled with sweat every time you take a break. But when’s the last time your bottle had a bath? “A lot of times people bring it home and they never actually wash it,” Rohrer says.
Protect yourself: Regularly run your water bottle through the dishwasher to avoid a buildup of germs and bacteria.8 Water Bottles That Make a Splash
Copyright© 2013 Rodale Inc. "Fitbie" is a registered trademark of Rodale, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction, transmission or display is permitted without the written permission of Rodale, Inc.