There's no doubt that exercising is goo for your health. But, according to a wealth of scientific data, hitting the gym could expose your body to all sorts of nasty germs as well. And the most dangerous time is during the winter, when germs are rife. In fact, research in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine found rhinoviruses – an infection linked to the common cold – on 63 per cent of gym kit, including free weights and aerobic equipment. It doesn’t matter that your chosen dumbbell hasn’t been touched for hours – experts report that cold and ’flu viruses can survive on surfaces for up to 48 hours. Worse still, harmful bacteria such as the norovirus, that causes vomiting; or staphylococcus bacteria, which is linked to skin infections, can linger even longer. We've asked the experts to expose the gym’s germ hot spots and reveal how to protect your body from the nasties.
It’s where you stretch after you’ve worked up a sweat, so it’s no wonder that exercise mats harbour a host of germs. ‘A third of the population carry staphylococcus aureus [a bacteria linked to skin infections] on our skin,’ reveals leading hygiene expert Dr Lisa Ackerley.
‘Mostly this is fine but, to protect yourself and others, cover cuts with a waterproof dressing.’ Mats can also be a hot spot for microbes linked to athlete’s foot, colds and ’flu infections.
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