Protect Yourself From These Super-Germy Spots in the Gym

Docs break down the real health risks you face at the gym, plus how to protect yourself.
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You hit the gym regularly to be healthy and fit, but did you know may be getting more than flat abs and strong arms there? Gym germs are strong, researchers say. Norovirus, which causes stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea, can survive for a month on the surface of exercise machines. The fungi responsible for foot infections multiply at a blinding pace in the shower. And microbes like MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can lead to dangerous skin infections, lurk in the locker room. To help you stay safe from these gym germs, we asked top experts to ID the biggest danger zones and to share the best germ-beating strategies.

Read: Breathing Exercises For Runners

Free Weights, Weight Machines, Exercise Balls

Because so many people handle it, this equipment is rife with gym germs and viruses that can lead to colds and other infections. “I’ve even found MRSA on an exercise ball in a gym,” says Dr. Philip Tierno Jr., a clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at NYU Medical School and the author of The Secret Life of Germs.

How to stay safe from these gym germs: It may not necessarily be standard gym protocol, but wipe down your weights after use. Weightlifting gloves can also act as a protective barrier from gym germs (though not a foolproof one, since your fingertips are still exposed). It sounds simple, but a thorough hand washing after any lifting sesh is your best method of protection. In addition, wipe equipment with disinfectant before and after you use it. No spray at your gym? Carry antibacterial gel and rub it on your hands before and after your workout.

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