While most Instagram accounts would have you believe that the gym is a haven for attractive people and sweat-free workouts, it’s actually a frightening place for your immune system if you’re not careful and cautious. In reality, gyms are places where people go to do the dirty work of working out, which means lots of sweat, germs, and potential for infections lurking around every corner. Here’s how to make the gym more of your Instagram fantasy and less of a bacterial wasteland.
Change out of your gym clothes immediately.
Workout clothes may be stretchy and comfortable, but skin-tight spandex combined with sweat and moisture is a quick recipe for UTIs, yeast infections, and skin rashes. Bring a change of clothes to the gym with you instead of waiting to get home to change out of your stretch pants.
Wipe down equipment every time you use it.
You should have a personal towel for wiping your face and hands at the gym as well as a cleaning towel that you can use to wipe down equipment. Before stepping onto the treadmill or lifting weights, wipe down the areas you’ll make direct contact with to reduce your risk of getting sick or contracting a nasty infection.
Wear sandals in the shower.
You may want an athlete’s body, but you don’t want to deal with athlete’s foot—a common fungal infection picked up in moist environments like the gym shower. A cheap pair of flip flops that you can stash in your gym locker and use in the shower can spare you from unpleasant itching and inflammation.
Wash your hands after your workout.
Especially during cold and flu season, frequent handwashing is a great habit to have at the gym. After touching all kinds of shared equipment, washing your hands is the best line of protection for your immune system.
If you do pick up a bug or skin rash during your gym time, don’t let it keep you off your feet. MeMD can help you feel better faster with convenient medical visits completed online, over the phone, or by app.