7 ways to avoid germs at the gym

Most gym-goers know to wipe down the treadmill after using it, but that’s not the only spot germs lurk. Here are seven ways to lower your risk of picking up germs during your gym visit

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flipflops

Wear flip-flops in the shower

Floors in the gym's shower stalls are germ central. If you're standing in the stall barefoot and have even the smallest cut in your skin, you can easily introduce a fungus and end up with an infection such as athlete's foot. Wear flip-flops in the shower so your feet are never in direct contact with the floor. That goes for the floors in the changeroom and sauna, too, since a fungal infection can happen anywhere when you're barefoot.

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water

Drink water from a reusable bottle

Norovirus is a highly contagious intestinal virus that can easily be spread via a communal water fountain. Fellow gym-goers might hit the fountain's spout with their mouths - and some may even spit in it. Bringing a reusable water bottle (preferably that you've filled at home) is a practical solution that keeps you from having to use the public fountain. Also be wary of constantly opening and closing the bottle - you'll transfer germs from your hands to the bottle, and ultimately, your mouth. Choose a bottle that has a spout you can easily pull open with your mouth instead of your hands.

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gym bag

Regularly disinfect your gym bag

Your gym bag is an item you likely toss around in various places - your car, the change room, or even the floor of a public washroom - without giving it a second thought. Unfortunately, that means you're increasing your risk of coming into contact with germs. Keep a bottle of disinfectant spray in your car or gym bag that you can use to spritz the bag's surface before bringing it into the house.

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woman yoga mat

Bring your own workout mat

When using a communal mat during yoga or barefoot workout routines, there is, once again, a risk of contracting a fungal infection. The best option is to bring your own yoga or workout mat and make sure to clean it regularly. If you're going to use a mat provided by the gym, sanitize it with an antibacterial wipe or hand gel and place a clean towel on top of it. Alternatively, you can purchase non-slip socks or shoes specifically designed for yoga so you don't have to work out with bare feet.

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group fitness

Keep your distance

Crowded fitness classes make it easy to inhale germs - particularly influenza. As a method of defence, you might want to consider getting the flu shot. You can also try to keep a reasonable distance (for example, two arm lengths) between yourself and anyone with a cough, as they are likely contagious. When heading for the cardio equipment during non-peak periods, choose a machine that's not right beside someone else.

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handwashing

Wash your hands regularly

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, or use an antibacterial hand gel before and after class. Regular hand washing is a habit worth developing year-round, but particularly important during flu season. Doing so prevents you from bringing germs into the gym, or leaving the gym with germs you may have come in contact with there.

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women weights fitness dumbbells

Avoid touching your face

From using free weights to touching the buttons on the cardio machines, your hands are likely the part of your body that have been in contact with germs the most during your gym workout. Try not to touch your face, since germs you come in contact with can wind up in the openings of your nose, ears and mouth. Make sure to have a clean towel with you so you can wipe sweat away from your face without having to use your bare hands.

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