Six Tips to Avoid Germs at the Gym

It’s frustrating when you’re going to the gym regularly, doing a great job at healthy living, and then you get sick – and you’re pretty sure the elliptical machine is the culprit.
Your local 24-hour fitness center is like a daycare for adults: Like any enclosed space full of people, it can be a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria. Fortunately, we can tell you how to live a healthy lifestyle while you’re working out. It’s not as hard as you think, and worth the extra effort!

Practicing these 6 tips will help you enjoy all the benefits of a gym, sneeze-free, without the added germs.

1. Wash your equipment.

First of all, let’s get real: Do you actually wipe down the treadmill after you use it? Just like how everyone knows that washing their hands after using the bathroom is a basic part of healthy living (but don’t bother), we’d bet that a lot of gym patrons are ignoring this rule as well. That means that you should not only wipe down the equipment after you use it, to be considerate of other users, but also before you use it, to remove any germs the last person left behind.

2. Wash your hands.

It doesn’t do much good to wipe down the equipment constantly if your filthy hands are getting them full of germs and bacteria again as soon as you’re done. Wash your hands, often and long enough: Use lots of soap and hot water, and sing “Happy Birthday” at its normal pace while washing to be sure you’ve spent enough time at the sink. Another option is toting a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer and using it when you change machines.

3. Avoid the fountains.

It’s important to stay hydrated while you’re working out, but if you’re using the gym fountains you could be creating a whole new problem for yourself. All your attempts at healthy living can backfire if you make yourself sick while trying to prevent dehydration. With all those mouths on it, it’s a prime place to pick up something nasty, including norovirus. Instead, bring a reusable water bottle from home and wash it thoroughly after each use.

4. Use your own yoga mat.

You can forget our rule about going barefoot when you’re in yoga class; practicing on your bare feet is important for getting the proper form in your poses. But with that in mind, bring your own yoga mat instead of using the ones the gym provides – that way you can be sure it’s gotten a thorough wipe-down after each class. If you can provide your own straps and blocks as well, even better.

5. Stay away from sick people

What’s one easy tip for how to live a healthy lifestyle? Stay away from sick people! If someone is coughing, odds are good that they’re contagious. That means you want to avoid them, as much as possible – keep a machine between you on the workout floor, and don’t stand next to them in a fitness class.

And if you’re the one coughing, get in your workout at home – or get some rest! Part of how to live a healthy lifestyle is keeping yourself healthy so that others don’t get sick because of you – because that means they can pass the germs back.

6. Get a flu shot

And finally, a key piece of how to live a healthy lifestyle, especially during the winter and early spring: Get a flu shot. Getting the influenza vaccine can reduce your chances of getting the flu, and make your illness less severe if you do get it. It also protects those who are unable to get the shot or those most at risk from the flu: Babies and young children, elderly people, and those with compromised immune systems. If you plan to spend an hour or two inside a box full of sweating people a few times a week, it’s just a good idea for healthy living.

This article originally appeared on LeanonLife.com.

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