Gym Rats: How To Avoid Getting Sick Cold And Flu Season
So you’re not using the excuse that you can just wear chunky sweaters to put on extra pounds this winter. You’re still hitting the gym, even though the drive through snow, rain, and hail is treacherous. You’re dedicated to your workout routine—or maybe you have to be because you’re struggling to avoid comfort food cravings this time of year. Nobody can fault you for keeping up your fitness efforts all year round, but the gym is a place where plenty of people come together aka plenty of germs come together. During cold and flu season, you generally want to avoid places where strangers sweat and share equipment, but if you still want to work out, and it’s too cold to do so outdoors, you just have to hit the gym. The bacteria that cause cold and flu viruses can lurk around every corner here. If you’re a gym rat, here are tips to avoid getting sick this cold and flu season.
Avoid the sauna with coughers
Do you hear someone coughing in the sauna? Don’t go in there while she’s in there. You don’t want to be trapped in a hot box, with no circulating air, with someone who is spewing germs into the atmosphere.
Avoid the steam room entirely
You may want to avoid the steam room entirely. Bacteria thrive in hot, damp environments. If someone brings flu or cold-causing bacteria into the steam room, it isn’t going to die off any time soon.
Fill up water bottles at home
Don’t use the filling station at the gym. If the opening of your bottle touches the spout, you could quickly introduce some germs into your mouth. Fill up water at home. Bring enough to the gym so that you won’t need to fill up there.
Use a squeeze bottle
Regular bottles with twist off caps require you to put your fingers—that just touched dirty equipment—right around the place you put your mouth. Get a reusable, squeezable bottle with one of those twisting spouts. Keep the spout open, and just hold the bottle over your mouth and squeeze when you need water.
Rinse the free fruit thoroughly
Is your gym kind enough to leave out bowls of free fruit for members? That’s nice, but the other members pick up a few apples before choosing their favorite one, leaving their germs all over the others. If you eat this fruit, rinse it thoroughly first.
Wipe down machines
Bring antibacterial wipes and wipe down the buttons, handles, bars and any part of the machinery you may use before using it. Your gym might supply these wipes for you.
Stay away if it’s too chilly
Does your gym pump up the air conditioner to combat all the sweating going on? Unfortunately, the cold virus replicates rapidly in cold temperatures. If your gym is always freezing, you may need to avoid it this time of year.
BYO yoga mat
If you take yoga classes or do any exercises that require a mat, bring your own. There’s no knowing how thoroughly the gym cleans the ones for loan—if at all.
Rinse off there
Take a shower at the gym. If there are any germs on your body or hair, you don’t want to potentially drag these home with you.
Keep a distance while spotting
Is someone spotting you while you use a high-intensity machine? That’s nice of her, but it also means she’s hovering over you, not far from your face, with her mouth likely partially open. You’re just welcoming a bacteria swap.
Wipe down weights
Don’t forget to wipe down free weights. This is especially important if your gym has foam covered ones, as this softer material can easily harbor germs more than steel or metal.
Don’t touch your face
Do not touch your face. Wear a cone if you have to (just kidding—sort of). The moment you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes, you risk sending germs into your system.
Watch where you put your towel
Be careful about where you hang your face towel. Draping it over a control panel or handle can expose it to germs, and then you’ll put that towel right on your facial orifices.
Have a dirty clothes bag
Have a bag that is strictly for your worn, sweaty gym clothes. Keep that separate from your other belongings. Bacteria grow rapidly in moisture, so you don’t want those damp clothes sitting on top of your phone or keys.
Skip it if you’re on the edge
If you feel like you’re fighting something off, don’t go to the gym. An intense workout could be just the thing that pushes you over the edge and makes you sick. Plus, your immune system shouldn’t come in contact with all those germs.