January is a busy time at the gym. It’s crowded and sweaty and nobody really wants to be there. To make matters worse, new research suggests that our unhygienic gym habits could actually be making us ill. A survey gym-goers found that 23% wait longer than an hour to shower post-gym, which puts you at risk of fungal infections. 17% of women said they can wait up to three hours before showering, compared to just 11% of men. Many bacterial, as well as mycotic (fungal) infections, can spread in damp conditions, such as on sweaty clothes and in between the toes, as is the case with athlete’s foot. 10% say they never wash their gym clothes and 44% wear the same sweaty gym gear more than once, with 7% wearing their gym clothes five or more times before washing. Gym clothes can harbor lots of bacteria due to sweat and because of the interaction between gym apparatus and public changing rooms. Sadly, just 19% f gym users admit to always cleaning gym equipment, and 46% have never sanitized the machinery. This means the equipment you’re using at the gym is more than likely covered in bacteria, commonly Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria, which can cause staph infections. Especially since ‘bacteria can happily live on equipment for three days! With so many people sharing the same equipment and areas at the gym, you should wash your hands thoroughly before and after. This can cut down your chances of contracting infections. Even if you have a home gym, you should still be sanitizing the apparatus. Use a disinfectant spray to clean the equipment, and if you’re in a shared gym, it’s good etiquette to wipe down after use. Make sure you get out of those sweaty gym clothes and shower as soon as you can, to avoid the risk of skin infections. Your gym bag and water bottles are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria. So, it’s good to wash them regularly to limit your exposure to germs.