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Tips for Avoiding Germs at the Gym

How to prevent catching the cold or flu while at your local health club


Updated February 10, 2014

Indoor workouts at crowded gyms can increase you risk of picking up germs, fungus and the common winter cold and flu virus. This is more common in the winter when we often spend more time training indoors where it's easier for germs to spread. To avoid unnecessary illness and downtime here are some practical ways to prevent the spread of germs and common gym bugs.


  1. Wash your hands frequently. This is often your best defense. Wash the entire hand using warm water and soap. Don't forget to clean under fingernails. Wash for about 10 seconds.
  2. Avoid putting your hands near your eyes, nose or mouth, unless you have washed. Most bacteria and germs are spread from a surface to your hands to your face. Few germs are transmitted through the air.
  3. Clean your 'shared spaces'. Wipe down gym equipment handles and buttons before and after you use them to reduce the spread of germs. Outside the health club, be careful of other shared items such as phones, keyboards, grocery store checkout pens and card readers, office equipment or any items touched by several people during the day.
  4. Get a flu shot. Flu shots are especially beneficial for those with weakened immune systems, the elderly or those who come in contact with a lot of people. Check with Health Services for more information.
  5. Get enough sleep. During sleep, your body's immune system goes into high gear to protect you from illness. Lack of sleep can reduce immune functioning making you susceptible to sickness.
  6. Get Adequate Rest and Recovery. Rest is physically necessary so that the muscles can repair, rebuild and strengthen.
  7. Stay hydrated. In the fall and winter, it is easy to overlook your thirst and get dehydrated. Make sure you plenty of water.
  8. Continue a moderate exercise program. Try to maintain a 3-4 day a week exercise routine. Consistency is key.
  9. Eat healthily. A good rule is to eat 10-15 calories per pound of "desired body weight." If your ideal weight is 170 lbs, then consume 1700-2550 calories a day (1700 for sedentary individuals and 2550 for extremely active types.)
  10. Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol can be dehydrating which, in turn, may decrease your resistance to bacteria.
  11. Finally, listen to your body. If you are less than 100% you will feel better and recover faster if you let yourself rest.
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