5 things your gym might put you at risk for

Going to the gym boosts your mood, muscle tone and even your immunity, but did you know that gyms can also put you at risk for things you don't want? Here are five things you can catch at the gym and how to protect yourself

Cold and fluPhoto by Photo: Thinkstock

Cold and flu

What it is:
Cold and flu have many similar symptoms, so it can be difficult to tell them apart. The flu is typically worse than the common cold. While people with colds are more likely to have mild muscle aches, some fatigue, and a runny or stuffy nose, the flu usually brings fever, more intense body aches, headaches, and extreme tiredness. Symptoms will vary from person to person and complications can result.

“The cold and flu virus spread from person to person through the air, so any time a person coughs or sneezes, it’s fair game,” says Jessica Burke Browman, a public health instructor and naturopathic doctor at Body In Sync Therapeutics.

“The gym is typically a crowded communal space with multiple shared surfaces, making it an easy place to spread germs,” she says. “People become infected when they touch an infected object or surface, like gym equipment, dirty towels, or water fountains, and then touch their eyes, mouth, or nose. Some viruses can last for days on a surface.”

How to treat it:
You can usually treat the common cold and flu virus without medication by getting lots of rest, drinking clear fluids placing a cool, damp compress on your forehead to reduce a fever, and placing a humidifier in your bedroom to help you breathe easier.  Over-the-counter medicine can be used to reduce fever, discomfort, and nasal congestion.

“Boosting your immune system with vitamin C and oregano oil can also help and prevent further infections,” says Burke Browman. You should also wash your hands often with soap and water, and while at the gym, wipe down your equipment and mats with cleaning wipes provided at the gym – both before and after you use the equipment. Health-care professionals recommend the annual flu shot, too.

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