We all know that a regular exercise routine is the elixir to a longer and healthier life; for exercise doesn’t just keep your weight in check; it also strengthens your muscles, heart & bones; lowers your blood pressure and of course protects the body from falling prey to a number of diseases. Some people prefer going for long walks, some for a sprint run early in the morning, some going to sports clubs to play their favourite sports, some going for yoga classes and some to a gym. In fact going to the gym has become one of the favourite choices with most of us especially in the urban cities where we have long working hours, busy schedules, shrinking open spaces and ever crowded public parks. Also not to forget the style statement attached with gymming thanks to our celebrities flaunting their gym selfies on social networking sites.
Well we have no issues on what motivates you to hit the gym coz at the end of the day being healthy is most imp. However, we are definitely concerned with a few common yet overlooked gym habits that cause havoc for your skin. Our panel of dermatologists’ claim they get at least 5-8 patients everyday who have contracted their skin infections from their gym visits.
Wait on This does not mean you should ditch the gym. You just need to be aware of a few commonly overlooked mistakes we make during our workout…………..read the enlisted ‘precautions’ and let your skin be equally happy as your body after a workout.
- Clean towels. (Make sure you change or wash the towels daily.)
- Anti bacterial wipes.
- A water bottle.
- Face wash.
- Facial Moisturiser.
- Body wash/ soap.
- Soft rubber band or gym head band to help pull back your hair.
- Hand gloves (Optional)
- Shower slippers (Optional)
BEFORE STARTING A WORKOUT
- Pull back your hair into a pony tail or a braid: Hair should always be pulled back from the face because if you’ve got hair touching your face while you’re working out, the natural oils (along with whatever styling products you’ve used) can trickle down onto your face when you sweat; clogging pores and causing breakouts. Also always keep your gym headband further back in your hairline instead of putting it directly across the forehead and make sure you wash your head band twice a week.
- Remove your make-up: Removing make-up before exercise is non-negotiable. If you work out with makeup on—even just a little bit—it could lead to clogged pores and breakouts. Light makeup can be removed with a facial wipe; but if you’ve got liquid foundation on or other heavy formulas; you need a facial cleanser to make sure it’s all off before you begin your workout.
- Apply a sunscreen: If you are working out during the daytime and you have to use equipment which is placed next to the window then you should apply sunscreen. Pick a broad-spectrum water-resistant or sweat-proof formula and apply it 15 minutes before you start working out so your skin has time to absorb it.
- Always workout with a towel: Use a towel or blotting tissues and not your hands to wipe the sweat off your face. Also remember not to keep your towel on the floor/ mat/ equipment seats; instead put it in your pocket.
- Avoid touching your face: The gym equipment/ machines especially their gripping handles are breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses; so it is best to keep your hands off of your face during workouts. You don’t want to introduce infective agents (eg staphylococcus bacteria which can cause impetigo. Impetigo is a common skin infection that can be easily transmitted at the gym and result in blisters and sores.) on your skin. In fact it is advisable to wear gym gloves while working out – but if that is not feasible; then you should always wash your hands immediately after your workout before touching your face.
- If possible; wipe the gym equipment before using especially the handles or seats: Wiping down communal workout equipment will rid the area of harmful bacteria. All it takes is touching the equipment and then your face to spread the germs and bacteria around. These days an anti bacterial exercise mat cleansers are also available in the market. A good quality hand sanitizer can also be used. In fact some professional gym chains provide their clients with disposable wipes to clean the equipment.
- Try to keep your body hydrated: When you exercise, your skin loses water due to evaporation, leaving the skin dehydrated. Drinking liquids before, during and after workout helps prevent dehydration of not only your body but also your skin.
AFTER THE WORKOUT
- Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap immediately after your workout: Gym equipment’s have sweat, dirt, oils and germs on it; thus touching your face before you’ve thoroughly washed your hands can transfer those substances. The grime can clog your pores, and while the germs could eventually make you sick.
- Always wash your face after the workout: When you exercise; sweat combined with increased oil production can cause problems for the skin so it’s always recommended to wash immediately after workout with a mild sulfate-free gel cleanser to remove dirt, oil and bacteria.
- Always take a bath after the workout: the grime and sweat on our body especially in our folds becomes breeding grounds of various infections. Hence if you’re not going to take shower and change at the gym; then head straight home and immediately hit your own shower. Also note you should either wear shower slippers or make sure you wash your feet thoroughly before stepping out of the shower because it’s not only sweat that circulates on the floor of public showers but there are also various strains of mold, algae and fungi that grow in moist environments. After the shower, dry your feet thoroughly with a clean towel, even in between your toes. After you’ve cleaned and dried your feet, lay a towel on the floor to stand on while dressing so that you don’t defeat everything you have just done to keep your feet clean.
- Try to keep the showers short: Post workout your muscles are sore and you’re exhausted but resist the temptation to have a long hot shower. For it may soothe your muscles, but will also strip your skin of vital oils; leaving you dry, itchy and unhappy.
- Apply moisturiser to re-hydrate the skin: after working out it’s important to replenish the natural moisture and oils that have been removed from your skin by applying a lightweight moisturizer. Dehydrated skin increases surface lines and causes skin cells to die prematurely, leading to premature aging as well as dead skin cell build up causing the pores to clog.
- Open your hair and let them air dry till you reach home: Don’t shampoo your hair every day after a workout. Excessive shampooing dries your hair and strips away your natural oils. You can also use a dry shampoo once in a while.
- Never repeat gym clothes without washing: Make sure you dump those sweaty clothes and socks in the washing machine. Do not repeat them the next day without washing. Bacteria and fungus love damp clothing so workout clothing that is not washed after each use (especially if you sweat excessively) is an ideal place for them to flourish.
ADVICE FROM A DERMATOLOGIST
You shouldn’t be going to the gym if you’re sick, please stay at home. Cold, flu, conjunctivitis etc are contagious and you can infect others as well. You can opt to do some aerobic exercises at home.