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Hidden Health Risks At The Gym
Chances are if you haven’t resolved to get back to the gym, you know someone who has, right? A key part of any fitness resolution is likely to involve a gym workout. But there are hidden health risks even at the gym. Know them, protect yourself.
Gyms are often the place where we are in close contact with other people from trainers to workout partners, sharing exercise equipment all which can create a fertile breeding ground for Staph infections.
The symptoms of staph include boils which are most common and appear in the hair follicle, groins, buttocks and armpits. The most contagious strain of the virus is impetigo, a painful rash that oozes pus, creating crust on the skin.
- Wipe before and after use
- Do not share towels
- Place a barrier (towels, gloves) between your skin and machines during use
Human Pamplona Virus
HPV is best known as a Sexually Transmitted Infection but this virus can be passed on in less intimate situations.
Walking without shoes in the gym, especially in those showers may lead to the transmission of this disease. This virus can manifest itself in several ways including genital warts as well as warts in both the feet and mouth, as well as on in your throat. HPV if untreated can lead to penile and anal cancers. There is no cure for HPV but it can be treated with prescription medicines.
What To Do
- Always wear shoes especially when showering
- Completely dry your feet before you slip on socks and shoes
- Keep your gym bag clean and dry as mold can grow inside
Candida is a fungal infection that can lead to ringworm, jock itch and Athletes Foot. You can contract this virus in saunas and swimming pools and showers.
Ringworm is a circular skin rash that can appear on palms and toes. Athletes foot can be a nuisance leaving you with itchy feet, and flaking and cracked skin. Jock itch often causes a rash in the groin and if it goes untreated cracks can develop in the skin. Anti fungal creams and antibiotics are the typical treatments for this condition.
What To Do
- Be sure to wash towels and socks and jock straps after each use
- Avoid sharing bar soaps, towels, and workout gear
Lastly, make sure that your gym has a health and safety policy that includes regular industrial cleanings of the facilities and equipment, this will reduce the chance of you contracting any of these viruses as you get in shape. If you don’t see a posted policy, ask about it. Protect yourself and stay healthy.
Andwele Boyce is a Freelance Journalist and Independent Communications Consultant based in Barbados. Andwele holds a Masters in International Trade Policy with specific research focus on health and human rights and is currently pursuing a Law Degree.