5 Health Risks to Avoid at the Gym

Did you know your gym could damage your health?  From the sweaty gym equipment to the steamy locker rooms, you could end up with some nasty injuries and infections:

1) MRSA. You've heard about flesh eating bacteria?  The Mayo Clinic explains that's  "the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria - often called "staph." MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It's a strain of staph that's resistant to the broad-spectrum antibiotics commonly used to treat it. MRSA can be fatal."  How do you avoid it?  Check your hands, feet and any exposed skin for even the tiniest scratches or abrasions.  Cover them up before using any gym equipment and place a clean towel on benches.  If you develop any weird rashes or bumps, go see your doctor. 

2) Fungal infections. The gym is the perfect breeding ground for athlete's foot and yeast infections.  The damp conditions in locker rooms leave bare feet and bottoms vulnerable to these common fungal infections.  Regina Brooks, ACE fitness instructor at Lloyd Athletic Club says, "Always wear flip-flops or shoes in the gym and shower and put a towel down in the steam room or sauna."  Change out of your gym clothes ASAP after exercise and use clean clothes and towels with every workout.

3) Slip and falls. Wet showers and tile floors can put you at high risk for slipping and falling.  Avoid sprains or even broken bones by wearing pool shoes, flip flops or sneakers in slippery areas.

4) Viral infections. Anytime people are in close contact, risks for colds and flues go up.  Never expose others by leaving a cough or sneeze uncovered and avoid picking up what someone else has put on fitness equipment.  Brooks recommends wiping down equipment with a disinfectant both before and after using it.  "You never know if the person who used it before you cleaned up after themselves."

5) Soreness. Ease into a new workout program.  Most sports injuries are caused by overuse or extreme stress on muscles and ligaments that aren't ready.  Start slow and add only 10% of time, speed, weight or distance at a time.  Wait a week before adding more.

Don't freak out about germs but be diligent. A little common sense cleanliness is all you need to avoid these common health risks at your gym.