Humans have trillions of microbes on and in their bodies and shed them constantly. Luckily, most of these microbes don’t make us sick, says Andy Brader, microbiology instructor at Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences. Problems arise when bacteria get into areas where they shouldn’t be. For example, strep and staph live on our skin. If they get under the skin, through a cut, they can cause infection, which can become serious. Also, there are issues with fungal pathogens like athlete’s foot and ringworm, which love damp environments. And germs from our gastrointestinal tract can cause problems like diarrhea when they’re exposed to a new area of the body. Germs come from us, so any place with a lot of traffic, including gyms, will have a lot of microbes, Brader says. Busy, wet spaces like a locker room, shower or sauna, are a breeding ground for germs. That includes gym equipment and mats. This doesn’t mean you need to be a germaphobe. Brader shared these tips to protect yourself during and after a workout:
- Try to avoid sharing items that don’t need to be shared, like mats.
- Wash your hands.
- Wipe down equipment before and after use. When using a cleaner, the more time a cleaner is on the surface, the better.
- Shower as soon as you can after using the gym. Use shower footwear if using the shower in the gym.
- Don’t keep dirty clothes in your gym bag. Wash clothing and air out equipment that you used that day.
In terms of yoga – yoga mats in a busy studio or gym can be breeding grounds for germs. “Sliding a yoga mat into a bag would transfer bacteria and fungus to the bag” states Andy Brader, microbiologist. And many people do not clean their mats as thoroughly as they should. Therefore, every time you put the yoga mat in the bag, you expose it to the same germs.
Note: Lancaster Newspapers Online article, Staff Writer Erin Negley, September 9, 2018 http://bit.ly/ThePureBag
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