Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Staying Healthy at the Gym

by Holly Hosler

Imagine this scenario: You’re at the gym and you’ve finished your laps, cooled down a bit, and now you’re ready to hit the weights. Damp hair clinging to your brow, you situate yourself at the bench press station only to lie down in a pool of someone else’s cold, smelly sweat.

Wouldn’t that be fun?

Though some people seem to forget it, the Golden Rule applies to the gym just as much as everywhere else. LifeBridge Health & Fitness Director Matt Carlen says he witnesses infractions of basic gym etiquette rules all the time.

“The things I see most often are used towels on locker room floors, weights that haven’t been re-racked and sweaty cardio machines,” remarks Matt. “There’s also a big problem of people taking up weight stations between their sets of reps – we have to remind people not to sit on equipment that they are not using at the moment.”

In fact, it’s not uncommon for other gym members to confront those guilty of an etiquette breach. While courtesy at the gym makes workouts more pleasant for all members, it may also have the added benefit of helping stop the spread of disease. Wiping down sweaty equipment helps protect the next user from your germs. If you want to be extra safe, you should clean your selected exercise machine both before and after use. At LifeBridge Health & Fitness, moist towelettes are provided to wipe down equipment.

“It’s also important to wash one’s hands before and after visiting a gym and after cleaning the equipment there,” says Jackie Daley, director of Infection Prevention and Control at Sinai Hospital. “While you’re in the midst of your workout, be careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth – at least not until you’ve properly sanitized your hands.”

The gym has alcohol-based hand rub stations throughout the complex, making it easy for people to sanitize their hands as often as needed.

So whenever you’re at the gym, be sure to clean your equipment before and after use and wash your hands as needed. It may just spare you from pools of sweat – not only the kind found on the equipment, but also the ones that come from being sick in bed.

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