Sometimes gyms and health clubs can be germ-y places. Protect yourself from getting sick with these tips for staying healthy at the gym
Hey friends, I’m loving the fall weather so far! It has been pretty mild here so far (not too much snow…yet). One thing I have noticed about the weather changes here is that once the weather gets cooler, the gym gets packed! Once the weather gets cold and windy, it sends most people indoors for their workouts, barring the few die-hard runners still pounding the pavement when it’s -10 degrees.
While I try to get outside to workout several times a week, during the fall and winter months in Wyoming it’s not always practical to workout outside. Plus, I still love lifting weights and teaching group fitness classes, so I’m in the gym just about every day. When the weather gets cold, I’m thankful for a warm place to workout!
Gloves are a great workout investment
As the weather cools down, more and more people will be hitting the gyms. With lots of people spending time in the same space, it’s important to take steps to stay healthy when you hit the gym, especially when flu season comes around. Here are my 6 tips for staying healthy at the gym:
Don’t go barefoot in the locker room
Keep a pair of “shower shoes” with you in your locker or in a plastic bag inside your gym bag. When my sister went to China to teach English several years ago, her and her fellow travelers were given shower shoes to wear while at the school.
Shower shoes are simply plastic flip-flops to wear in showers that aren’t at your home. It might feel weird at first to wear sandals in the shower, but trust me, your feet will thank you later!
BYOM (Bring Your Own Mat)
If you love to practice yoga or like to have a mat to workout on, think about bringing your own mat with you. I love my yoga mat – it is way better than any of the mats at our gym and it has grip beyond belief.
That being said, I also bring my own mat because I don’t really want to share germs with other people since mats aren’t always cleaned very well, if they are cleaned at all. If you bring your own mat, spray some yoga mat spray on it regularly and take some time every week or so to wash it down really well in your bathtub or shower then let it hang dry.
If you can, avoid gyms where there’s a lot of mold and mildew
This has a little more to do with indoor allergens than germs, but managing allergies it’s still a big part of staying healthy. Gyms can be great places if they are kept clean, but if you are spending any time at a gym with mold, mildew, dust, etc. all over the gym, this isn’t going to help your allergy symptoms.
Consider changing gyms, working out at home, or spending less time at the gym and more time outside. I have been to gyms that have visible mold and mildew in the locker rooms and the ceilings – this isn’t great to be breathing that stuff on a daily basis!
And here’s something to think about: a lot of the dust at gyms is made up of human skin cells. For real. People moving a lot will shed skin cells, so make sure the gym you choose is a healthy one that takes cleanliness seriously and doesn’t leave a lot of dust around for you to breathe.
Good gyms should also have some quality air systems to make sure patrons aren’t breathing in too much dust, outdoor pollen, mold and spores.
Wipe down benches, mats, and handles before and after you use them
You don’t really know who was sitting on that bench, mat or bike seat before you, whether they bothered to shower the past few days, or whether they wiped their equipment down after they used them. I have seen people sweat puddles around their stationary bikes, so definitely take a few minutes to clean your bike seat before you park yourself there for the next hour.
Wash your hands frequently or bring along some alcohol-based hand sanitizer
Try to keep your hands away from your nose, eyes, and mouth while working out so you don’t pick up unnecessary germ hitchhikers. Make sure to wash your hands well before eating your post-workout snack!
Give the outside of your gym bag a thorough cleaning once in a while
Wipe it down with disinfecting wipes once a week or so, or throw it in the wash if it a bag that can be washed.
If you’re feeling a little under the weather at the gym, it could be your allergies. As I mentioned before, if your gym has a lot of dust or poor air quality control, indoor allergies may be a bigger concern than germs there.
Once you make some changes and create these habits at the gym, you can focus more on your workouts and not your allergies or the germs!
Disclaimer: this post is for informational purposes only and is not meant to replace professional medical advice
Sarah Jane Parker is the founder, recipe creator, and photographer behind The Fit Cookie. She’s a food allergy mom and healthy living blogger based in Wyoming. Sarah is also an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Certified Health Coach, Revolution Running certified running coach, and an ACE Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist