(WEAU) - While we wait for the warmer spring and summer weather to come our way, some people prefer to exercise at the gym.
We're sharing important information on staying healthy at the gym in our Health Beat with Dr. Alicia Arnold.
CE: Let's discuss some ways to prevent infection at the gym.
AA: Infections can be easily spread through any break in your skin. Try to keep bandages on any cuts or scrapes to lessen the chance of infection. Try to clean equipment before and after you use it and consider buying some frequent use items like a yoga mat for your personal use.
CE: Besides equipment, are there other items that people should consider sanitizing?
AA: One thing that people sometimes don't think about is their gym bag. Germs can grow in your bag, so it's a good idea to wash it on a regular basis. Another way to help keep it clean is to keep a plastic bag in your gym bag where you can place your dirty workout clothes. Then when you get home, empty the clothes directly from the plastic bag into the washer.
CE: What if an athlete notices something unusual on his or her skin and is concerned about infection?
AA: It's important to have it checked out by your healthcare provider. One example of something potentially serious is the bacterium called MRSA or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This can be found in hospital settings, but also can be found in the community. It may appear as a red painful bump on the skin that sometimes people mistake for a spider bite. MRSA may be spread more easily among athletes because of potential for skin-skin contact, sharing objects like towels, and risk of breaks in the skin through which the bacteria can be transferred.
CE: How about clothing choices for the gym?
AA: Moisture wicking clothing isn't just a gimmick from clothing manufacturers. It can help keep skin dry and therefore discourage growth of germs. If you find you are getting blisters, make sure your shoes fit correctly. You can try alternating between two differently pairs of shoes or wearing specialized socks or pads on the areas that blister.
CE: What are some ways to help prevent athlete's foot?
AA: Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection. People can get it from walking in damp places like near a swimming pool or in a locker room shower. Wearing sandals or flip flops is a good idea in public showers. Try to keep your feet dry, by wearing socks that are made of natural fabrics or that wick moisture away from the skin. Wash your feet thoroughly when you shower, and dry them completely afterwards.