CindySays: Follow hygiene rules at the gym
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Now that cold-and-flu season is in full swing, you might have noticed increased attention given to germs in your gym. Workout centers are optimal breeding grounds for bacteria, fungus and viral organisms.
Because personal cleanliness plays such a large role in reducing the spread of infections, responsible fitness centers and health clubs will post signs offering etiquette rules and tips for healthy hygiene. Exceptional centers and clubs go a step further. For example, instead of tips, they establish policies with mandatory rules -- rules that are continually monitored by staff.
When public health officials begin discussing influenza and viral infections, you may start to think twice about going to the gym to work out. If so, consider this: The health benefits of regular physical activity far outweigh the risks, especially if you understand how to safeguard yourself and others.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston found that it isn't sweat but rather the lingering moisture from sweat that helps germs survive. Most germs have a relatively short lifespan, but when moisture is not wiped away and sanitized regularly, germs have more time to grow.
Here are some rules to follow so you can stay healthy while working out:
Gyms get an enormous amount of attention with regard to germs because they are a health facility. However, germs are present in every setting, including your home, which makes it impossible to eliminate all risk during flu season.
Regular exercise and its benefits will be your greatest ally against germ warfare and will keep your immunity running high. You may end up with a cold or a virus or even a bacterial infection, but people who are fit are usually less affected and recover much faster.
At this time of year, we must all be diligent in practicing good gym etiquette and understand that gym staff and members alike are equally responsible to have a healthy outcome for all.
Cindy Boggs, fitness presenter, author and Activate America director, has been an ACE-certified instructor/trainer since 1989. Send your questions about fitness, training or health to her at YMCA of Kanawha Valley, 100 YMCA Drive, Charleston, WV 25311, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for Cindy's award-winning fitness advice book, "CindySays ... You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World," at www.cindysays.com, or contact the YMCA at 304-340-3527.