Regular exercise is vital to staying fit and healthy, but new research from sports nutrition brand Myprotein reveals that gym goers could actually be putting their health at risk every time they hit the gym.
The survey found that 70% of Americans go to the gym while sick and 51% wear their gym clothes at least twice before putting them in the laundry, but that’s just scratching the surface of their bad gym behavior.
Five Unhealthy Gym Habits to Avoid
Dr. Orton, primary care physician and advisor to Myprotein, outlines five things that could mean a trip to the gym does you more damage than good. Orton also offers tips on how to protect yourself against them.
#1. Keep Smartphone and Headphones Clean to Avoid Infections
Listening to music while you’re working out can be really motivating, but cell screens and headphones – especially ear buds – can collect all kinds of bugs that could put you at risk…
Dr. Orton says: “These pieces of tech are everyday staples and should be cleaned regularly. Music tech in particular should be regularly wiped with anti-bac to kill any lingering bacteria, which could easily lead to ear infections.”
#2. Avoid Pushing Yourself When You’re Sick
It’s important to listen to your body, and even more so when you’re sick. Pushing yourself to work out when you’re fighting off illness means your body has to work harder to recover, from both the illness and the exercise. Plus, you could risk doing even more damage.
“Forcing a workout while you feel fatigued or achy can overexert your body, meaning you’re probably working on a less-focused attention span, with a higher potential for injury,” comments Orton.
#3. Not Everything Needs to be High Intensity
If you’re not feeling too good but don’t want to stop exercising altogether, try pausing your high-intensity routine and take it easy instead.
“Avoid high-intensity workouts when you’re sick – it’s not the best time to try and hit a new PB,” says Orton.
“Research shows that low intensity exercises, such as walking and more gentle forms of yoga, can work to support recovery.”
#4. Keep Your Germs to Yourself
If you’re recovering from illness and feel up to restarting your fitness regime, that’s great,but remember to think about other gym goers. Just because you’re feeling better that doesn’t mean you can’t still pass your germs on to other people.
Dr Orton says: “Ensure that you wipe down equipment, take your own towel and use an antibacterial gel to avoid sickness spreading.”
#5. Always stay hydrated
Proper hydration is key to helping your body perform and recover from any workout. But a shocking one in 10 gym-goers quizzed in the Myprotein survey said they don’t take a water bottle into the gym, which puts them at risk of loss of coordination, muscle fatigue, cramps and exhaustion.
“Take care to drink pre, mid and post-workout to avoid losing focus and, potentially, causing injury,” Dr Orton says.
The Bottom Line
So, remember, while working out is generally great for your health, neglecting basic hygiene and common sense could have a negative effect that means a trip to the gym might not be as good for you as you thought.