Germs and the Gym

Gyms are wonderful places to exercise, but they can also be great places for germs. Germs can spread as far as six feet (two meters) through droplets released in the air by coughs or sneezes, and can remain in the air on tiny droplets -- ready to be breathed in.

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Clean Equipment Before Use

Germs can stay on surfaces long after someone coughs or sneezes on or near them. This doesn't mean you should avoid gyms, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting sick. You can catch and spread germs when you touch something with germs already on it, then touch your eyes, nose or mouth. And since germs can stay on objects for hours, be sure to use an alcohol-based gel to wipe down weight machines, mats, treadmills, and any other piece of equipment at the gym before using it. Some mats can be porous, making it difficult to clean them thoroughly. Consider bringing your own mat to decrease the risk of catching or spreading germs.

Keep Away from Anyone Coughing or Sneezing

Stay at least six feet away from anyone who seems like they have a cold or infection, and avoid any equipment they've been using.

Don't Exercise Near Others with CF

Since people with cystic fibrosis are especially vulnerable to catching or passing germs to each other, avoid taking fitness classes with someone you know has CF. And try to work out at least six feet apart from anyone else who has CF.

Wash Your Hands

After you touch equipment or anything else at the gym -- from doorknobs to blow dryers -- wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand gel.

Let Your Trainer or Instructor Know

Letting others know you have CF is a personal decision. You don't have to disclose this information, but enlisting the help of your trainer or gym class instructors can make it easier. They can help make sure equipment is sanitized, and if they know of others with CF who use the facility, they can help you keep a safe six-foot distance and minimize contact. You can also ask that they not stop the class or draw attention to you if you cough.

Get Vaccinated

Vaccinations help your body protect itself from germs, like the flu virus, which are especially dangerous for people with CF. Help your body guard itself against germs by staying up to date on your vaccinations. Encourage your family and friends to also get vaccinated to reduce the risk of spreading germs.

For a list of what vaccinations to get and when to get them, talk to your care team at your next care center visit and check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's web site.

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