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For those of you who are moving indoors to escape the nasty weather that's sure to come through the winter, going to the gym brings some challenges that the outdoors don't.
No, we're not talking about the abundance of people packed on the treadmills or in cycling classes, but the amount of germs that place is filled with.
That's why we're giving you the filthiest spots in the gym to take note of—and how to avoid collecting those germs to stay healthy.
This one's pretty obvious considering nearly everyone filters through there at some point before or after their workout. From things being carried in from outside on shoes, to the dirty towels just laying around, the locker room is the first place you'll want to avoid spending too much time in.
Fight The Filth: In addition to bringing your own towel, make sure you wear flip-flops if you're using the communal shower. It might not seem like a big deal, but all those germs from dirt, sweat and anything else that may be lying around the locker room floor can only do harm to your health.
There's a reason why they have all those spray bottles available to use, guys, and it's to, you know, actually use them to clean off equipment. While sweaty treadmills, stationary bikes and weightlifting benches are gross, nothing's more germ-filled than an exercise mat, so do what you can to keep it clean for other people.
Fight The Filth: The easy solution is to bring your own, but for people who only use a mat to stretch on for 5-10 minutes before/after exercise, that seems like a lot of work. Therefore, the next best thing would be incorporating stretches where you don't need to be lying down—like squats, bent-over knee stretches or light lunges.
Free Weights/Weight Machines
Considering 75 percent of people use this equipment while working out—but we'd guess that only 25 percent of those people actually cleaned it off—you'd be wise to avoid these if you can. Of course, that means you're not really working out, so while using them, just make sure to avoid staying in that area for too long and always wipe them down before and after use.
Fight The Filth: In addition to the aforementioned wipe down, you might want to have a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you. Like other suggestions on this list, that may be a little awkward, so just remember to wash your hands immediately after use—which will even give your muscles a nice between sets, too.
The first thing most of us do even before beginning our workout is grab some water—which is smart. Unfortunately, that drinking fountain we're sipping from is loaded with germs from people who aren't following the necessary steps to prohibit the spreading of germs.
Fight The Filth: Bring your own. It's that simple, guys. Just remember to wash it after each use so that you fight off any germs that your water bottle may have picked up while sitting around the gym.
We've all heard horror stories about how dirty a public pool is, so of course the gym at your gym will have a bunch of germs in it, too. In addition to any unnecessary relief people are doing in there, the pool is littered with various bacteria from saliva and sweat that are harmful—even with all that chlorine. Plus, way too many people think the pool can be used for a giant bath, refusing to clean off before jumping in after a workout.
Fight The Filth: First off, never jump into any public pool without goggles on to protect your eyes. Second, the easiest way to grow skeptical of a dirty pool is the amount of chlorine in the air. If it's strong, stay clear of the water, as the chemical reacts with microorganisms to fight them off, meaning it's not as clean as it should be.
The most common piece of equipment that people use while working out, treadmills really are a cesspool for germs. With sweat, spit and a bunch of other things dripping on them, a recent study from gym equipment retailer FitRated showed that treadmills have 74 times more bacteria than a public bathroom faucet. That's gross.
Fight The Filth: Always wipe them down after use. And if you happen to get on one that still has blots of sweat on it, go clean it up yourself so that you don't subject yourself to such germs that were leftover from someone else.