Staying Healthy at the Gym

Photo: iStockphoto.com/arekmalang
8 easy ways to avoid colds, flu, and other common infections.

Many of us join a gym in order to live a healthier lifestyle, especially at the beginning of a new year. Ironically, gyms are a haven for germs, particularly the shower, mats, and exercise machines (especially those that have handles). It’s already challenging to work out regularly when the days are dark, cold, and short, and the last thing any of us needs is an illness to force us off track. Help protect yourself with these tips:

1. Bring your own mat for floor exercises and classes, and keep it clean.

For a quick refresher between classes, make a natural antibacterial mat spray.

DIY Antibacterial Spray:

1 part water
2 parts vinegar
10 drops tea tree oil or lavender essential oil

You can also put this solution in a small spray bottle and use it on your hands at the gym.

For a thorough clean, hand-wash your mat in the bathtub or shower. Use a few drops of soap but be sure to rinse well. To dry your mat, place a towel on top of it, and then roll the two together tightly. Make sure your mat is thoroughly dry before storing or using it.

2. Bring two towels in different colours, one for cleaning exercise machines and the other for wiping sweat off your face. Don’t touch your face with your hands – always use the towel.

3. Bring two bags – place clean clothes in one bag and sweaty clothes in the other. Make sure to wash the bags from time to time.

4. Don’t go barefoot. Flip-flops are inexpensive and will protect your feet in the shower.

5. Use a water bottle rather than the water fountain.

6. Wash your hands, often.

7. A healthy diet is essential for immunity:

  • We should consume more fruit and vegetables than any other food group; however, this food group is often the most neglected. Aim to fill half your plate at each meal with these nutrient-rich foods. (The other half should be grains, dairy, and meat.) If eating plenty of fruit and vegetables proves difficult, or you wish to boost your intake, take a daily green drink. There are many drinks on the market, which not only offer the nutritional benefits of green plants and vegetables, but also contain main alkalising ingredients.
  • It’s well known that consuming protein right after you work out helps with muscle repair and recovery. Protein may also help support the immune system. Try a protein drink, or protein-rich foods such as almonds, eggs, or peanut butter.
  • It can be difficult to obtain adequate levels of vitamin D during the winter months, when there is less sunlight and we spend less time outdoors. Of course, winter is also when cold and flu viruses are at their peak. According to recent studies, vitamin D may help prevent seasonal infections. Plus, research has noted a link between the severity of acute lower respiratory infections and vitamin D deficiency in children. While sunshine is the most natural way to get vitamin D, there are also supplements and food sources, such as salmon, tuna, egg yolks, and beef liver.

8. You’re doing the right thing – sufficient exercise boosts immunity.

While working out too much can reduce immunity, brief sessions (up to 90 minutes) of moderate to intense exercise have the opposite effect. Research has uncovered a link between regular exercise and fewer seasonal colds and bouts of the flu. Studies show that as a person begins to exercise, the activity of immune cells in the body increases, improving their ability to kill bacteria and viruses.

These simple tips will help protect you from colds and flu viruses this season. Don’t let those New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside – stay healthy and stay fit!

This article is supplied by Alive Magazine – Your complete source for natural health and wellness.