For centuries we’ve been taught about the benefits of going to the gym; it will keep you fit, healthy, and boost your immune system! You will be invisible to germs, viruses, and any bacteria that comes your way if you decide to lift some weights and hop on the treadmill.
WRONG! It’s not enough to just exercise daily, drink a ton of water, and eat healthy. There are many reason why you are still getting sick despite your “healthy” and “fit” habits.
Think about the myriad of gym goers who touch equipment, sneeze, use the restroom and don’t wash their hands. We all come from different walks of life (you’d be surprised), and unfortunately, not many of us have adopted hygienic habits.
1. You Wash Your Hands TOO Quick
According to “How Much Time You Spend Washing Your Hands Makes a Difference,”
A 2018 report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that up to 97 percent of us wash our hands incorrectly. Knowing when and how long to wash your hands makes a difference in how often you and your family get sick. In one workplace study, employees who were trained in handwashing and hand sanitation practices used 20 percent fewer sick days due to improved hygiene” (Watson, 2019).
You’re entering the bathroom after you crushed your workout, you feel great, and you hit an all-time personal record on incline bench, yes! You and a familiar face use the sink to wash your hands, and that person turns the faucet on, sprinkles a little tiny itty bit of water onto their hands, and off they go to start their germ spreading day! Suddenly, you realize you greeted that person before your workout with a handshake.
You MUST acknowledge and implement proper handwashing so you can continue to hit those PRs and maintain that chiseled physique! You have to!
Proper Handwashing Steps (#3!):
1. Turn on the water and wash your hands for about 6 seconds.
2. Apply liquid or bar soap to your wet hands. If it is liquid, apply 2-3 pumps, and if you are using bar soap, rub your hands on the soap 3-4 times.
3. Lather the soap on your hands and up to your wrists. The most critical area to clean is between your nails and fingertips. This is a very important step to kill all bacteria and germs that you come across.
4. Continue step 3 for at least 20 seconds
5. Rinse your hands thoroughly and well.
6. Use a towel to dry your hands.
In terms of the temperature of the water, what will be the most effective in killing those harmful bacteria that are sabotaging your gains? It doesn’t matter. Hot, Warm, Lukewarm, Cold, Freezing cold, it’s really no difference. Use whatever temperature you want.
2. WAIT! Don’t touch that door handle!
You spent all this time killing those germs only to get them back when you turn the doorknob to exit the bathroom.
If your gym (or work) has a bathroom door, don’t let your hard work go to waste! Use the same paper towel that you used to dry your hands to twist the knob to maintain your germ free hands.
Remember that guy who washed his hands for about 2 seconds and scurried on outta there? This step is imperative that most people, magazines, and articles miss! This isn’t guidelines for just your fitness center. Your home, work, boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s house, your cousin Ted’s $3 million dollar mansion. This applies anywhere and everywhere.
If there are no paper towels in the bathroom, and your gym has bathroom air dryers, use your sleeve or shirt to turn the knob. I know this might sound outrageous, and you probably think this will turn you into a germaphobe, but listen, think about the GAINS! These are all healthy habits to protect you, your family, and friends so you can keep crushing the day!
3. Clean Your Cell Phone
According to Seattle Times journalist Bobby Caina Calvan, your phone is covered in germs: 25,127 bacteria per square inch, to be precise. This makes cell phones one of the dirtiest objects we come in contact with every day.
Great! You use your phone to track your workouts, timer for breaks between sets, and browsing through social media (yeah, I see you! Shouldn’t you be working out?).
The germs on the dumbbells you touched, the buttons you pressed, and the hands you shook are ALL on your phone now.
Everyone forgets to clean their phones after their workouts. Your cell phone alone can be the reason why you keep getting sick. In this digital era, there is no way you’re going a day without using your phone. I mean who else is going to scroll through Instagram meaningless all day? Your dreams can wait until tomorrow, or until this Baby Yoda trend dies out (so, never).
The best and cheapest tool to clean your phone is an alcohol prep pad. You can purchase these at any drug or retail store like CVS, Target, or Walmart. Simply use one pad to clean the front, back, sides, top, and bottom of your phone. I recommend using a wet paper towel after to maximize the germ killing, but this isn’t necessary.
More Germ Fighting Strategies:
Follow this quick checklist to stop getting sick from the gym:
· Shower right after your workout (preferably at your own house). Use shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Wash your ears and nostrils.
· At your earliest convenience, place your workout clothes in the washer.
· Wipe down benches before and after use.
· Bring your own water bottle, towels, and exercise mat.
· Fist bump your friends at gym when you greet them.
From a person who use to get sick every fall, winter, spring, and summer, these 3 tips will help you fight off those hidden germs so you can keep accomplishing your fitness goals! No days off!