Tips for good gym hygeine can help you avoid grime, germs

Published Mar 28, 2013 at 05:00AM

If you don’t already wipe down gym equipment before you use it, you might want to start. The key to a cleaner workout session? Simply be attentive. Try these tips.

• Buy a better bottle: Plastic water bottles tend to hold bacteria. The only ones you can be sure of are metal. To clean the bottle properly, just wash it in hot, soapy water. Also, keep an eye on your bottle to make sure someone (like nearly half of the people in one survey!) doesn’t sneak a sip while you aren’t paying attention.

• Wipe, wash, repeat: Whether you decide to constantly wipe down the equipment, cleanse your own hands or a combination of the two, keeping your hands clean can help make sure gym germs don’t do any damage. Keep your own little area organized and hygienic, and you’re going to be protected. After using each machine or set of weights, use the hand sanitizer and wipes that should be provided by your gym to keep germs at bay.

• Clean your gear: Dirty, dark, moist gym bags are great for fungi — they’ll grow just fine in the interior. There are several ways to avoid contaminating your gym bag. Put your dirty clothes in a plastic bag, take them out and empty the plastic bag right into the washer. And don’t forget about your sneakers. Like your dirty clothes, slip them into a plastic bag before throwing them into your gym bag. Then, once you get home, wipe them off with a disinfecting wipe (including the bottoms), let them air dry and toss them back in the next day.

• Shower smarter: Although they’re not completely foolproof, flip-flops will provide a barrier between you and the floors and you and the shower room. But take note: Once they get wet in the shower, fungal spores can still get on your feet. To minimize the risk, soak your sandals in a 10% bleach solution once in a while. That’ll help keep them — and your feet — as clean and fungus-free as possible.

• Take a rest day: Don’t go to the gym if you have a really bad cold and you’re sneezing and your nose is running. Also, if you have an open wound, you might want to stay away from the gym that day to avoid infection, or infecting anything you might touch while you’re working out.

• Hold off on the hot tubs: If you have an open wound, or skin or other infections, absolutely do not use Jacuzzis or common pools. If you do, you’ll not only transmit bacteria, but you’ll be more susceptible to bacteria that are already lurking in the water.

— Women’s Health magazine