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Ask Bob Greene's Team: Where are the hidden germs at the gym?
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You know your gym is germy, and that's why you always bring your own water bottle, towel, yoga mat and shower shoes. You haven’t let your bare skin touch the stretching mats since you first joined, and no one needs to tell you to wipe down the treadmill control panel before you press "GO." But you may not realize where else viruses and bacteria may be hiding, says Michelle Kennedy, MS, a Best Life fitness expert. Take these extra precautions, especially with the CDC's recent announcement that flu season, significantly delayed this year, is just getting started.
Disinfect the disinfectant containers: Think about it: you see people spraying and wiping everything in the gym—except for the spray bottles and wet wipe receptacles. Wipe them off before you put them down for the next germaphobe to use.
Store your gear high: Even fastidious gyms don't get around to cleaning every single locker every single night. The bottoms of the lockers tend to be the dirtiest because that's where people tuck away their outside shoes, says Kennedy. She always hangs her clothes and gear from hooks so that they come in contact with as few grimy surfaces as possible.
Don't co-mingle your clothing: Kennedy points out that most people don't think twice about taking off the shorts that just spent an hour on the stationery bike (one microbiologist found the fungus Candida albicans, which causes yeast infections, on exercise bike seats all over New York City) and tossing them into a bag with clean clothes, books and other items. She suggests a sports duffel with separate pockets for shoes and sweaty gear, like this one.
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As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.