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Protect Yourself from Swine at the Gym!

All the scary news flying around about swine flu got us wondering: Are we safe from these germs at the gym? Never fear, an answer is here, courtesy of infectious disease expert, Mark Wilson, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health: “Risk in a gym should be no greater than in any other group context of similar size and interaction,” he says of the influenza virus (aka: H1N1). “Indeed, it might be less in gyms because people who are feeling ill probably won’t want to exercise and will stay home!” Make your session even safer with a few simple strategies:

Four smart steps to stay germ-free at the gym–no mask required!

A Clean off the equipment: The treadmill panel, elliptical handles, strength machine grips, dumbbells, mats, there’s no shortage of surfaces that someone could have unintentionally infected by sneezing or coughing on it. Prevent picking up those germs by wiping off and squirting any area you’ll touch with one of the disinfectant sprays the gym should have handy on the floor.

Wash hands before, and after, your workout: Viruses like H1N1 are introduced into your body when you rub your eyes, nose or mouth, so keep hands as clean as possible to cut your risk of infection. Scrubbing with liquid soap is best–and temperature doesn’t matter, but time does: rub hands under running water for at least 20 seconds (hum “Happy Birthday” twice if you don’t like counting!). To be extra-safe, tote a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer like Purell to the gym along with your water and use liberally.

Don’t skip the shower: “For many infectious diseases, the one hygienic factor that seems most protective is showering,” adds Wilson’s colleague, Professor Jim Koopman. Microbes that get on your skin, in many different ways, can get washed off by showers.” Still fret about athlete’s foot? Get over it says Koopman: “You’re more likely to get organisms off your skin that you have picked up in the gym by showering than you are to pick up an organism in the shower.”

Keep your distance in class: “People can be infectious a day or so before showing symptoms, so it can be difficult to tell if they’re ill,” says Wilson. To keep contamination free, remain far enough away from fellow dancers or bootcampers that droplets from a surprise sneeze or cough that they may let loose can’t hit you.

Source (article): SELFMAGAZINE

Source (picture): BLOGS.REUTERS

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