This Is the Worst Thing You Can Touch at the Gym, the CDC Says

As COVID-19 continues to spread, you should avoid using these items the next time you go to the gym.

While at-home workouts may have held some fitness buffs over during lockdown, many people are now flocking back to gyms as states reopen. However, don't assume that your routine will be the same as it was pre-pandemic. Gyms have instated safety precautions—like social distancing and wearing face masks—to prevent the spread of COVID-19. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have also released guidelines for gyms, including one very important rule: You should avoid touching resistance bands and weightlifting belts at all costs.

According to the CDC, items like resistance bands and weightlifting belts are dangerous because they can't be disinfected between uses. Whereas, free weights, benches, and machines (like the elliptical and treadmill) can be easily wiped down with disinfecting wipes before you start your session.

"Unfortunately, most fitness centers and other activity areas are not properly sanitized after patrons use them," Michael Hall, MD, founder of the Hall Longevity Clinic, previously told Best Life. "Studies show that there is a tremendous number of bacteria that can reside on equipment after usage."

woman lifts gym weights in a gym with a mask on

The safest bet is to bring your own personal gear, such as yoga mats, resistance bands, and weight belts, instead of using the shared ones at the gym. And if you do use the bench-press tables or other popular equipment, make sure to put a towel down first. You should also use hand sanitizer before starting your workout at each new station.

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For other ways to curb the coronavirus at the gym, the CDC suggests social distancing in studios, locker rooms, weight areas, and running tracks—although, it's still best to look for virtual training sessions or facilities with outdoor space (such as pilates in the park). If you have a hard time breathing while using a face mask at the gym, consider doing your most intense exercises outside, where you're less at risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. Otherwise, you should try to wear a face covering when stretching or doing yoga indoors. And for more things you shouldn't do when you work out, check out This Is the Biggest Mistake You're Making When You Go Back to the Gym.

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