47 0 0 0 13 6. But not jock of the day excuse to skip your workout.
Just make sure your best intentions don’t backfire in the form of a nasty skin or respiratory infection. With sweaty members swapping machines and equipment, gyms can be a breeding ground for fungi, bacteria, and viruses. In one study, researchers found 25 different types of bacteria lurking in fitness centers, on everything from toilet handles to leg presses to elliptical trainers. But don’t let thoughts of gross gym germs stop you from going. Nirav Patel, MD, assistant professor of infectious diseases at Saint Louis University.
Knowing what problems are out there can help you avoid them. They’re also potentially the most serious. Most of the time, though, they don’t cause problems. In fact, about one-third of people, gym-goers or not, carry some type of staph on their skin. Patel, who is also chief medical officer of SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital. More often than not, staph bacteria are passed from person to person, not surface to person. That means you need to worry more if you’re participating in contact sports, not individualized workouts.
Still, wash your hands or use an alcohol-based sanitizer frequently. Wipe down gym equipment before and after using it, cover any cuts or sores, and don’t share towels or other personal items. Staph infections most commonly cause boils. If you have skin symptoms that don’t go away, see your doctor. The best-known infection-causing examples are probably athlete’s foot and jock itch. While you can pick up fungal infections at the gym by walking barefoot, they’re more likely to come from your own hygiene practices, Dr. It’s made worse by being in sweaty shoes, using the same socks day after day, and not letting your feet dry out.
At least that makes the solution pretty obvious: Change your socks and gym clothes between workouts, and don’t let them stew in your locker or gym bag. Wash your clothes frequently, then air them out and store them in plain sight, not in a musty closet or bag. If you do get an itchy rash in one of these areas, a number of over-the-counter antifungal products can usually clear it up within a few weeks. If not, talk to your doctor. Britt Marcussen, MD, clinical associate professor of family medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City.