I found this on Yahoo, about infectious diseases at the gym:

About 80 percent of all infectious diseases are transmitted by both direct and indirect contact, says Philip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology at New York University Medical Center and the author of The Secret Life of Germs.

That makes the gym, with its sweaty bodies in close proximity, a highly conducive environment for catching everything from athlete’s foot to the flu.

In swabs of medicine balls, for example, Tierno found samples of community-acquired MRSA — a strain of staph resistant to some antibiotics.

“You take your chances,” Tierno says. “Any time you touch a medicine ball or machine, you have to know that your hands are contaminated and should be washed.”

What about those spray bottles some gyms provide for wiping down equipment? They may help, Tierno says, but he recommends additional measures, such as wearing long sleeves and pants while working out.

Also, bring your own towels, since there’s no guarantee that your gym’s linens have been bleached or rinsed in clean water. While in the locker room, make sure you wear flip-flops, and avoid sitting nude on any exposed surface.”

An editor’s note: the estimate of 80% is off by 20%: All infectious diseases are transmitted by contact with pathogens. Having had this discussion with college freshman living in the dorm, there are only two issues.

  1. Asepsis
  2. Immunity

Asepsis is understanding and action that pathogens are microscopic, found everywhere humans congregate (including surfaces, air, and saliva), can remain infectious hours/days outside the body, and infection may occur after inoculation with only a few organisms.

Immunity relates to stress, nutrition, supplements, and voodoo, all of which is noise compared to the simple question of whether or not you get exposed to pathogens. Stress and sleeplessness do have immune suppressive effects, but there is not nearly as much you can do about them as contagion.

Here is some advice to the dorm girl which may help reduce cold/flu experiences: Remember that many viral illnesses are contagious before symptoms develop, and often people who look well are sick and you won’t know it. Get the flu shot if you cannot avoid frequent contact with people (meningitis for college kids too). Try to avoid handshakes and sharing food, writing implements, computer keyboards and mice, and clothes/scarves/hats/gloves. Wash your hands often (with good antimicrobial like Purell, etc), especially after contact with people, using the restroom, and before eating. Try to avoid close quarters with others in areas that are poorly ventilated.

The astute reader will notice that bugs take advantage of our social species, and if you do everything to avoid illness you will get even more unpopular. Asepsis advice to coeds will also reduce incidence of infections such as STD and pregnancy.


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