By Linda Melone for Prevention
Zumba class, cardio equipment, free weights and fitness balls all have one thing in common besides getting you in shape: They can also get you sick, thanks to the germs that other gymgoers leave behind. So is your workout likely to land you in bed with a cold? Not if you take a few precautions, say experts.
"Germs are all around us," says Philip M. Tierno, Jr., Ph.D., director of clinical microbiology and immunology at the New York University Langone Medical Center and member of the Global Hygiene Council, "but most germs are not going to make you sick unless they're pathogenic [a type that causes illness] or your immune system is compromised." Germs can survive anywhere from less than a minute to a period of months, depending on the surface and the type and number of bacteria, says Tierno. In other words, we all have to live with germs -- but there are plenty of smart tricks to avoid the worst ones. Here's how to keep the germs at bay while you get in shape.