Protecting yourself at germy gyms

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You may get more than you bargained for when you workout at the gym. Fitness facilities can be germ factories, but health expert, Karen Owoc, talked to KRON 4’s Marty Gonzalez about ways to get fit without getting sick.

Karen says fitness studios or gyms may be places to get healthy, but they’re also breeding grounds for a host of germs — particularly Staphylococcus bacteria or “staph”.

A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found 25 different categories of bacteria lurking in fitness centers.

The majority of germs that people pick up at their favorite fitness studio are those that affect the skin. Bacteria, fungi, and viruses that cause skin infections thrive in SWEAT.

Warm, moist areas are particularly problematic.

The following skin problems are the most common ones you can pick up at a fitness facility:
1. Athlete’s Foot and Jock Itch
* Blame these conditions on fungus.
* Only half of them are harmful, but they can be annoying, ITCHY and difficult to kill.  It’s important to get treatment at the first sign of a problem.
2. Hot-Tub Rash
* When levels of disinfectants (like chlorine) are too low in swimming pools and hot tubs, you can get an itchy red rash from the bacteria that you pick up.
3. Plantar Warts
* This virus infects feet, so don’t go barefoot in the locker room, gym showers, or exercise studios.
4. Staph Infections and MRSA
* Methicillin-resistant Staphyloccocus aurea (MRSA) is a difficult staph infection to treat because it is resistant to many antibiotics.
* MRSA can thrive for days in locker rooms and on gym equipment, mats, and benches.

Tips:

  • Use a towel as a barrier between your skin and anything that is shared weight machines, bicycle seats, exercise mats, treatment tables, and sauna benches.
  • Keep your feet covered and wear flip-flops in wet areas, such as the shower, hot tub, and pool areas.

Bring your own:

  • Exercise mats rarely get cleaned after use or between classes. It’s best to use your own for yoga, floor exercises and stretches.
  • Bicycle seat covers can provide comfort AND protection (spin classes can get pretty sweaty in some pretty personal areas).

Practice Your Own Good Hygiene

  •  Wash your hands before/after playing sports or using shared equipment.
  • Disinfect equipment BEFORE and AFTER you use it. Don’t trust that the person before you wiped it down.

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