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Fitness facilities can be germ factories
- Safeguard your skin. Keep cuts and scraps clean and covered with a bandage until healed. Keep a barrier such as an item of clothing or a towel between your skin and equipment that others use, such as weight-training machines and sauna benches. Always wear flip-flops or shower shoes in wet areas.
- Bring your own exercise mat. Gym mats, like those used for practicing yoga, may not get cleaned between classes, so it’s safest to tote one with you.
- Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands before and after playing sports or using shared equipment. If soap and water are not available, the CDC advises using a hand sanitizer that’s at least 60 percent alcohol. Use sprays or wipes to disinfect gym equipment both before and after you use it. Shower after exercising or using a hot tub or swimming pool.
- Do your laundry. Stash sweaty clothes, swimsuits, and used towels in a plastic bag separate from the rest of your gear and wash them after every use. “Evidence shows that the numbers of skin bacteria build up each time we wear a piece of clothing without washing it,” Vasquez says. Heat kills bacteria, so she advises washing and drying items at the warmest temperature level listed on the clothing tag.
- Be stingy with your stuff. Avoid sharing personal items that touch bare skin, such as razors and towels.