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 Exercise & Workout Routines

september 2012
Gym Hygiene
Dr Pramati Reddy
 
With most lifestyle diseases being linked to obesity, working out is commendable indeed. But, when you exercise, make sure all you get is exercise and not any of the infections from the gym or common workout areas.

A gym is a germ zone, as people gather in close proximity and sweat a lot. Therefore, it goes without saying that fungus and certain bacteria that grow well in moist areas, thrive in gyms.

If proper hygiene is not maintained in gyms, you are at risk of contracting some or the other infection. Infection is spread by touching the equipment that have these germs, and then touching your eyes or nose with germ laden hands. Like other infections, these germs too can enter your body through open wounds like skin scrapes or abrasions.

Common Infections That You Risk In A Gym Or Workout Area

  • Athlete’s foot: A fungal infection of the feet that causes scaling, flaking and itching.
  • Jock itch: An infection of the groin area, caused by fungus.
  • Boils: Skin infections involving hair follicle and skin tissue, often filled with pus.
  • Impetigo: A contagious bacterial skin infection.
  • Herpes simplex: Oral herpe saffecting lips, mouth and gums.
  • Ringworm: A fungal skin infection which causes itchy, red scaly patches on skin.
  • Influenza: A viral infection that affects the nose, throat, bronchi and at times lungs.
  • Streptococcal bacteria: A genus of bacteria that cause a number of illnesses ranging from rheumatic fever to joint diseases and even kidney diseases.
  • E Coli: A type of bacteria that commonly causes urinary tract infections or other infections as well.
  • Viral Conjunctivitis: The pink eye is associated with infection of the upper respiratory tract, common cold or sore throat.
  • MRSA: A bacterium (Methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus) that causes several very difficult to treat infections
A gym is a germ zone, as people gather in close proximity and sweat a lot. Therefore, it goes without saying that fungus and certain bacteria that grow well in moist areas, thrive in gyms.

Prevention Against Infections From Common Workout Areas
  • Spray gym equipment with a disinfectant and wipe before and after every use.
  • Do not share your personal items like towels and neither borrow someone else’s.
  • Carry your own water bottles.
  • Shower with antibacterial soap immediately after a workout.
  • Shower before and after using a pool or sauna.
  • Use fresh workout clothes and towels each time.
  • Take your own clean mat for floor exercises.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before and after using equipment.
  • Bandage all wounds.
  • Avoid going to common workout places when you are sick.

Whether or not you’ve worked out lately, pay attention to any cut, bruise or scratch that becomes red or feels hot or tender. The risks from ignoring infections till they become serious is much more than the risk of becoming infected from gym equipment.


Dr Pramati Reddy is Consultant Internal Medicine, Apollo Health City, Hyderabad.