Cold and flu viruses, athlete’s foot fungus, and the bacteria that cause drug-resistant staph infections can be easily transmitted at group exercise facilities. Luckily, you can reduce the chance of contracting these conditions with a few easy steps.
1. Handle sweaty gym clothes with care.
Sweaty workout clothes provide the perfect environment for harmful germs to grow. Experts recommend showering as soon as possible after a workout and changing into clean clothes.
Because gym bags are a hot spot for germs, look for a bag that is washable or has a compartment made especially for wet clothes. If these types of bags aren’t available, placing dirty clothes in a plastic bag can help keep germs away from other items in the gym bag.
When your child comes home from a game, have him take damp shoes and clothes out of his bag right away. The clothes should be washed as soon as possible, and the shoes should be allowed to air out. If your child keeps workout clothes at school for physical education class, make sure she brings them home frequently for washing.
2. Don’t share personal items in the locker room.
If changing in a locker room is new to your child, make sure she knows not to share personal items. Drug-resistant staph infections, which can cause skin infections and pneumonia, can be spread through sharing towels or razors. Germs can also be transmitted through shared deodorant, lotion, and cosmetics.
3. Protect your feet.
Make sure your child is aware of athlete’s foot, a fungus common in locker rooms and communal showers. If your child showers after gym class or games, he should wear shower shoes or flip-flops and avoid walking barefoot in the locker room.
4. Wash your hands.
Germs can be transmitted easily between players in contact sports or between athletes who share sports equipment, but the benefits of exercise far outweigh the risks of getting sick. The best protection from gym germs is also the easiest: frequent hand-washing. Teach your kids to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 15 to 20 seconds (the amount of time it takes to hum the birthday song twice).