Skin infections like MRSA and other illnesses can easily spread in gym and locker room settings. You probably already know to wash up after hitting the gym, but pay special attention to washing your hands. It's no fun to come down with something avoidable during your pursuit of health.
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Who knows what the dude that finished using your go-to treadmill or favourite bench without wiping it down might have left behind. Skin diseases among athletes are extremely common, according to this 2010 position statement issued by the US National Athletic Trainer's Association. Some of the most common skin infections, including athlete's foot, herpes simplex, impetigo and the more serious MRSA, a certain strain of hard-to-treat staph bacteria, are all often found in gym settings.
Minimise your chances of bringing something home by washing your hands with soap and water after your workout. If you hit the locker room showers after, use your own soap and towels too.
A squirt or two of the hand-sanitiser won't cut it either (but if there's really no other option, make sure it's at least 60 per cent alcohol). Also, avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes, says the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most gyms will also have a sort of disinfectant spray, which could help slow the spread of germs, but one study in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine finds that they're not always effective. It might give a little peace of mind, but that doesn't excuse you from not scrubbing up and properly laundering your clothes after.
It's not like you need to work out in a bubble or avoid the gym altogether though. This is just a friendly PSA to be aware and wash your hands after using gym equipment before you head out for that post-workout grub. It's simply good hygiene.
National Athletic Trainer's Association Position Statement: Skin Diseases [National Athletic Trainer's Association via The Nation's Health