Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Consumer Reports Insights: Health clubs harbor hidden dangers
Joining a health club can make it easier and more fun to exercise. But gyms and weight rooms can also present safety problems. Bacteria in poorly maintained pools can spread disease. Antibiotic-resistant staph infections can be picked up in crowded locker rooms and from heavily used exercise equipment. You can be injured or even suffer an exercise-related heart problem. Here's how to minimize those risks.
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.
Source: Washington Post.com 12/20/11