Are you safe at the Gym?
Just recollect, when you were in the Gym last time, did you clean the machines, gadgets or the equipment before and after you used them? Did you shower before using the pool? Did you wear flip-flops in the changing room? If you did not, then it’s time to change your ways.
We all go to the Gym to improve our health. But if we are not careful instead of gaining health we may lose it, Do you realize that while working out at the gym there is a two way risk. You could be spreading germs or picking some up.
There are three main gym germs:
Fungi, which cause athlete’s foot, Viruses which are responsible for cold, flu and verruca and bacteria which can cause skin infections and stomach upsets.
The swimming pool is one of the main danger areas. Swimming pools are known to be the breeding places for a virus known as cryptosporidium which is chlorine resistant. It’s caused by it’s of faeces such as with diarrhea that get into pools and infect people who swallow hem causing severe stomach cramps.
What are the precautions to be taken?
Do not use pool for at least two weeks after having diarrhea. Make sure children have been to the toilet before and the babies wear special nappies.
Have shower before you enter a pool. It washes away common skin bacteria plus organic matter such as sweat and urine which contain ammonia and react with chlorine to produce that distinctive swimming pool smell. A slight smell is normal, but if a pool smells pungent it may be a sign that levels of disinfectant are wrong, The water should also be sparkling. It shouldn’t be foaming and you should be able to see the bottom clearly.
Getting into hot water.
Cleanliness is just as important when it comes to Jacuzzis. These are cozy at the best of times, but sharing bodily fluids with your fellow bathers is going a step too far. However that’s exactly what you will be doing if you or they haven’t had a shower before getting in.
In a Jacuzzi, the organic matter present in the fluids on people’s bodies has even more relevance than in a pool, because you have larger number of people in a small area and the water is much hotter. This can lead to a problem with an organism called pseudomona which thrives in Spa water, feeding off this organic material. It can get in to the hair follicles on people’s legs and torso and infect them causing an itchy, red rash known as folliculitis.
If you think you have folliculitis see your GP who can recommend a topical treatment. Just like swimming pool, you shouldn’t use a Jacuzzi, if it is cloudy or foaming as the water may need treatment.
Athlete’s foot is a common condition that affects gym users.Its caused by spores of fungus that grow on the sole of your foot and make the skin between the toes peel. Blister or crack and itch. The toe nails may go yellow. You can catch athlete’s foot by walking barefoot in the moist warm areas that fungi love, suchbas showers wet changing room floors and the area around swimming pools.
Precautions you should take.
Wear flip-flops. They also reduce you’re your risk of catching infections verucas- bumpy growths on the sole of your foot. Verucas are caused by a virus that gets in to the skin through small cuts or wounds. To tell if you have verucas or not put your thumbs on either side of the spot and squeeze it. If it pricks like a needle, it’s probably a veruca. Avoid infecting others by wearing flip- flops or wearing a veruca sock which you can get at a local chemist. A veruca will usually disappears on its own, but if you want treatment you will find plenty at local pharmacy. If it becomes painful see a podiatrist for advice- your GP can refer you to one.
A good gym should hose down the floors several times a day to help wash germs away. Make sure yours does this.
You could also use an anti-fungal cream or powder as a precaution. Just sprinkle a little between your toes before you put your trainers on.
Colds are cused by a virus which is transmitted from person to person via droplets passed from the nose and throat through coughing and sneezing. There are two main ways you can get infected. The first is by standing near someone who is coughing and sneezing, though you would need quite prolonged contact with a sufferer to catch a cold this way.
The other way is by dirty fingers. People with a cold blow their nose and then touch things like gym equipment with fingers that are covered in contaminated mucus. Other people then touch the equipment. Put their fingers in their eyes and near their nose and get infected.
Precautions you should take.
Remember not to put your fingers near your nose or eyes until you have washed your hands.Take a soapy shower after working out. This will clean your hands and reduce the number of germs on them.Also think about working out early in the morning. Viruses last only a few hours. So the machines will self sterilize overnight.When it comes to the sauna the heat won’t actually increase your risk of catching a cold. Being in a sauna doesn’t make viruses more virulent. In fact viruses replicate best in a cold nose around 32C. However its not sensible to spend any length of time sitting next to someone who has a cold. The temperature is not the risk factor but the moist circulating currents of air could be as they may keep viruses floating in the air where they are easier to inhale.
When it comes down to it you may be exposed to germs in the gym just as in any public area. But if you follow basic hygiene rules and your gym does too you will reduce your risk.
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