It’s that time of year when it seems as though everyone around you has the sniffles, a cold and the flu. Practicing proper handwashing is one of the simplest and most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and this week health agencies are spreading the word, not the germs, by observing National Handwashing Awareness Week so you can stay healthy this winter season.
Many of us know when to wash our hands, such as when they are soiled, after using the restroom, before and after preparing food, after touching garbage and after blowing your nose or sneezing. We also know the proper way to wash our hands (if you need a refresher, click here).
Another time that it is important for us to be aware of spreading germs is at the fitness center. Just like at the office or at home, people are coughing and sneezing, and at the fitness center we add sweating to create a trifecta of avenues for germs to spread. With people sneezing, touching the screens, wiping their sweat and breathing heavy on the machines all day long, it’s hard to rely on the staff to keep everything clean. Lucky for us, there will always be disinfecting spray and towels throughout the gym (if there isn’t, tell the staff!) and it is proper etiquette to use these to wipe down the equipment you’re using when you’re finished. Also, you never know if the person before you wiped down the treadmill when they were done, so take precaution and give it a quick spray and wipe before you begin.
Here are a few more tips for staying clean and healthy at the gym:
- Wash your hands before and after your workout
- Cover open wounds to protect them from bacteria
- Avoid touching your face
- Don’t use a water bottle that your mouth touches in the same place your fingers touch when opening and closing it
- Shower immediately after exercise and don’t share bar soap, razors or towels (wear shower shoes if you’re showering at the gym!)
- Wash workout clothes after each use
If you are feeling under the weather, evaluate your signs and symptoms before heading to the fitness center. If you’re coughing, sneezing, have a running nose or are contagious, skip the gym! Pop in an exercise DVD or check out YouTube for an at-home workout.
Practice proper handwashing and educate others during National Handwashing Awareness Week – and the rest of the year too!