- Staph infections, including those caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria, can spread through shared gym equipment, mats and towels.
- Infections tend to occur near a cut or scrape, and on certain body parts (the armpits, buttocks, groin and neck).
- They start off looking like a large pimple but can swell, become painful and produce pus.
- If they spread to your bloodstream, they can be life-threatening.
- Many clear up on their own, but seek medical attention if a fever develops or if the area becomes enlarged, red, tender or warm.
- Use the alcohol spray or wipes that most gyms provide to wipe off equipment before and after use.
- Place a clean towel over mats used for doing sit-ups, stretching or yoga.
- Don’t share towels with others.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
- Shower after working out. If you have a cut or scrape, keep it covered with a clean adhesive bandage and don’t use hot tubs or whirlpools.
Dirty Pools Teaming With Bacteria
- Poorly maintained swimming pools are common, allowing bacteria and viruses to cause outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness.
- Inspections at 3,666 health clubs in 13 states found serious lapses requiring the immediate closing of 10 percent of the pools (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Improperly maintained circulation and filtering systems and skimpy disinfection were among the most common problems.
- Require showers with soap before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing a baby’s diaper.
- Don’t use the pool if the water has a strong chemical smell or appears cloudy.
- Pool water should have little odor and be clear enough that you can easily see the bottom.
- Chlorine and pH levels should be checked at least twice a day, and the pool’s latest inspection score should be recorded.
- Chlorine should be 1 to 3 parts per million (4 to 6 ppm for hot tubs), and pH should be 7.2 to 7.8.