The pandemic has encouraged more homeowners to purchase some type of exercise equipment and form their own home gym. Sale of treadmills increased 135%; stationary bikes tripled, and combined equipment/service hybrid models like Peleton increased 232%, according to the Washington Post.
As we look at moving into Fall and winter, cold-weather gear sales are increasing – items such as skis, snowshoes and outerwear.
With this increase in exercise equipment, safety precautions should be considered. Two of the most important areas to consider are physical injury and pathogens.
Safety Measures to Prevent Physical Injury
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that about 8,700 children under 5 years of age, and 16,500 children between the ages of 5 and 14, are injured by exercise equipment each year.
- Never leave free weights, especially barbells, in an unstable position.
- Clip the treadmill safety key (the device that turns off the treadmill if the user falls) onto your clothing, not sitting or dangling unused.
- Accelerate and decelerate gradually. It’s a good idea to start a treadmill on the lowest speed setting possible and then increase the rate gradually; then when you’re done, lower the speed gradually and step off carefully.
- When the treadmill is not in use, keep this safety key out of reach of children, as it is required to activate the machine.
- Keep gym equipment in a room that has a door which can be locked.
- Position the equipment so that you have a clear view of your surroundings, and avoid distractions by music or television, especially when children may be present.
- Keep folding machines stored and secured in the folded position.
- Keep equipment locked and unplugged so that children cannot accidentally turn the machine on.
Even before the Covid pandemic, good gym hygiene was a concern. Sweaty residue on workout equipment provides moisture that encourages the spread of germs.
These germs can lead to a number of problems, such as skin infections, pimples, and even life-threatening diseases such as sepsis, meningitis, or antibiotic-resistant staff infections.
While these are even more of a concern in commercial gyms, where multiple people are using the same equipment and often in quick succession, good hygiene is still the best way to prevent the spread of these germs, both in a commercial gym and at home.
Practice the following precautions when working out:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after exercise.
- After touching surfaces that most everyone touches, especially things such as weights or machine handrails, keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, ears and mouth until you have washed your hands.
- Wipe down the machines and other items with disinfectant before and after use. Not only is it the best way to help prevent the spread of germs, it’s also good gym etiquette so that the next user doesn’t have to touch your sweat.
- Bring your own sweat towel, and use it. Don’t rely upon towels provided by the gym, since not all gyms launder their towels the same way. Bringing two towels can allow you to use one to place on the machines before you sit, and the other for sweat.
- Wash and sterilize your water bottle regularly. This is always a good practice, even when you’re not working out.
- Don’t go barefoot in a gym shower or sauna. Wear flip-flops or water shoes. The warm, wet environment is a breeding ground for bacteria and can lead to issues like athlete’s foot or ringworm.
- Sit on a towel or wear shorts in the sauna to avoid direct contact with the seating, which may harbor bacteria.
- Cover any breaks in your skin with bandages. Even a minor scratch or raw skin can allow the entrance of Staphylococcus aureus, causing a serious staph infection.
Investing in exercise equipment and services for your home is a great way to stay healthy – as long as you regularly use the equipment, and keep these safety guidelines in mind.
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