Do you go to the gym? If you do, it’s probably because you care about your health and want to stay in shape. But did you know that gyms are breeding grounds for germs and can actually make you sick?
It’s no secret that gyms are the ideal environment for spreading germs, what with all their machines and equipment being shared by everyone in a closed and confined space. If the guy on the stationary bike beside you coughs forcibly, you’re pretty much guaranteed that some of his spittle will end up in your airspace. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do when the person beside you decides to spew out pollution like a steam train.
However, what you can do is learn more about the germs you’re likely to find in settings such as the gym so that you can take the proper steps to protect yourself from viral or bacterial infections.
Here is a “Top 5” of the most common (and most disgusting) germs typically found in gyms.
- Staphylococcus aureus. Also called staph, this bacterium primarily causes skin infections. It is spread through direct contact such as by sharing a towel or razor, from touching the surfaces of exercise equipment or through physical contact. Infections are usually mild and present superficial skin eruptions such as pimples and/or boils. However, if the bacteria spread and penetrate deeper into the skin, they can turn into extremely dangerous infections such as pneumonia, sepsis or meningitis.
- Influenza. Commonly referred to as the flu, this acute viral disease causes infection of the nose, throat and lungs, leaving people miserable and weak for a few days. Since influenza is transmitted by air, people tend to get the flu after being in closed and confined spaces like airplanes, movie theatres and gyms. Inhaling the droplets from someone’s cough or sneeze is enough to become contaminated. You can also get the flu by getting the virus on your hands, and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
- Candida. Candida is among the most common yeast-like fungus. Fungi can cause fungal infections like athlete’s foot, dermatomycosis (ringworm), jock itch and yeast infections. These infections love heat and humidity, and are transmitted through contact. As a result, locker rooms, saunas, swimming pools and showers are all fertile spawning grounds for foot and other contagious fungi..
- Escherichia coli. Commonly called E. coli, this common bacterium is found in animal intestines and feces. E. coli infections cause cramps, diarrhea and vomiting, and can even lead to pneumonia. E. coli is generally contracted by eating contaminated food, but also from touching contaminated gym surfaces.
- Streptococcus. This bacterium usually causes infections of the upper respiratory tract (strep throat). There are twenty different types of streptococcal bacteria, which are highly contagious. Infection is transmitted through physical contact with another person, through airborne droplets and by touching door handles and other surfaces (such as exercise machines drenched in sweat, saunas, locker rooms and water bottles). Symptoms can vary from a mild throat infection to pneumonia. Streptococcus can also cause skin infections like impetigo, which causes sores, blisters and cellulitis.
Have a great workout!