A fomite is essentially an inanimate object that an infected individual can contaminate then it acts as an infection source for others. Solid, non-porous objects such as door handles, counters and elevator buttons are the best fomites. Once infected with gym germs, the surfaces have the capacity to indiscriminately transmit bacterial, fungal and viral infections.
Gyms are the ideal breeding ground for contamination and excellent fomites include benches, dumbbells and locker room floors. Think about how often you have witnessed someone leaving the restroom with unwashed hands as he or she heads to the weight area. There are also individuals who sneeze and cough without covering their mouths. In addition, there are those who are constantly dripping all over the weight benches. These individuals are all potential spreaders of infection.
A recent study has indicated that the skin becomes exposed to a wide range of stresses due to the nature of athletics. Infectious agents, vigorous exercise and environmental factors all combine to attack the skin’s integrity and challenge the resilience of the immune system. Colds and infections often result from successful attacks. Among the most common types of gym germs are skin infections, herpes simplex, HPV, ringworm, MRSA, E. coli, influenza and staph.
Sources of Infection
Expected and unexpected sources of infection are quite extensive. Below are a few of the more common offenders that are popular in just about every gym:
- Steam rooms
- Shower stalls
- Locker room benches
- Locker room floors
- Your clothing
- Weight benches
- Weight gloves
- Water fountains
- Stretching and yoga mats
- Gym bags
- Cardio equipment
Before completely giving up on working out in the gym, read on for a few methods of reducing your risk.
Avoid Touching Your Face
It is quite possible for you to infect yourself with influenza, rhinovirus and other viruses. If you come into contact with infected surfaces and wipe your mouth or rub your eyes afterwards, there is a strong likelihood that you have introduced your body to an infection. To solve this problem, simply avoid touching your face.
Create a Barrier
Creating a barrier between the equipment and yourself is extremely essential. A towel can create a very effective barrier. Apart from being used on the gym equipment, use towels on locker room and steam room benches as well.
Use Antimicrobial Soap to Shower
To kill any gym germs with which you may have come into contact, shower from head to toe with an antimicrobial soap. It is highly recommended that you shower before leaving gym as these germs can be easily transported and spread elsewhere.
Daily Wash All Your Athletic Gear
It is quite possible for your gym clothes, weight belt and weight gloves to become infected if they encounter fungi, bacteria or viruses. Therefore, washing these items daily is very important, along with your lifting straps and gym bag.
By planning carefully and sticking to the tips above, you will be able to safeguard yourself from being infected with gym germs.