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Contagions at the Gym

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By Julie Evans

There are already a number of hygiene expectations in place when you visit a gym. For starters, it is common courtesy to leave other users alone, and not encroach on their space when working out. But a lot of gyms also require the use of sweat towels, or antibacterial spray and paper towels, to wipe down machines and workout areas after use. This is not only a requirement, but also a general courtesy so that you, and other members, do not have to make contact with the sweat or other bodily fluids of the previous user.

While workout-related issues can be easily dealt with, it is also important to pay attention to your overall health when using the gym, for your own wellbeing and to prevent passing on viruses or infections to your fellow users - especially considering the past year we have had, with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pink Eye

Pink eye, commonly known as conjunctivitis, is an eye infection that can differ depending on if it is viral or bacterial. While the pink eye symptoms can be similar for both, bacterial pink eye is also highly contagious. If you do wish to still visit the gym when you have this condition, it is important that you do not touch your eyes, and wash your hands thoroughly, with an antibacterial handwash, on a frequent basis. Using prescription eye drops, as well as over the counter medications, can help to clear this up and relieve symptoms. Staying away from others, and not sharing sweat towels for machines, can also reduce the likelihood of you spreading this infection.

Common Cold

About one billion cases of the standard common cold are seen in the United States every year. You can contract the cold and be asymptomatic for two or three days before you start to feel the effects, but can still be contagious during this time, as well as when symptoms start to show. Even though cleanliness, hand washing, and covering the face when you cough or sneeze should occur throughout the year, it is important that you practice exceptionally safe levels of hygiene during cold seasons. Not only can this help you to avoid passing on potential bugs to other people, but it could even assist you in not contracting the cold in the first place. Staying clear of others at the gym, not sneezing or coughing onto equipment, and cleaning down surfaces thoroughly after use, are great ways of keeping the environment that bit safer.

Stomach Flu

The stomach flu, or viral gastroenteritis, is incredibly contagious, and can result in loose, watery feces, as well as vomiting and other symptoms. It is possible to contract the stomach flu through infected food, drink, and even contact with an infected person. If you have any symptoms of stomach flu, it can be a good idea to not attend the gym that day, or until you have had 48 hours without vomiting or diarrhea, to help prevent the spread to others.

Being a responsible gym user isn’t just about sharing the space with others who also have health and fitness in mind. It is also about looking at your own health and doing all you can to keep yourself and others free from germs or illness.

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