Stay Healthy At The Gym | 6 Tips For Athletes
It is challenging to stay healthy in the wintertime; gyms and community centers are swimming with bacteria, fungus, and other things that may reduce your immunity. Going to the gym or participating in training for a competition when you’re already sick with an upper respiratory tract infection, for example a common cold, tonsillitis, sinusitis, etc. can be very detrimental for your health. Couple that with the fact that an open cut or sore could provide a location for microbial invasion, it is important for athletes to make sure they are taking the proper health precautions while exercising.
Preventing an infection disease on the skin is important for athletes who need to exercise, train, and compete. Research out of Waseda University in Japan set out to study the risk of skin infections for athletes by examining epidermal barriers on the skin. An athletes’ skin can provide a breeding environment for microorganisms due to frequent sweating, and it is possible that skin infections can negatively impact an athlete’s performance.
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At Risk Athletes
Athletes participating in various sports are more susceptible to developing a staphylococcal skin infection, such as contact sports like wrestling, rugby, hockey, basketball, and football. Staphylococci are a bacterium of a genus that cause pus formations in the skin and mucous membranes, and are classified as Staphylococcal aureus (S. aureus) or coagulase-negative Staphylococcus. The epidermis – the outer layer of cells that make up your skin – functions as an immunological, biochemical, and physical barrier against pathogen invasion. Due to this, athletes that participate in these sports and athletes who train at the gym and use a lot of shared equipment are at risk for skin infections, causing temporary disability to train and compete.
Related Article: Are You At Risk For Skin Infection?
Six healthy males participated in the study, and performed a bicycle-ergometer exercise test for an hour in a climate-controlled room. They were instructed to bike at 75%HRmax for 59 minutes, and 50%HRmax for 1 minute. Participants were instructed to refrain from wiping the sweat from their skin on all parts of their body during exercise. After exercise, skin surface samples were collected from the chest and the forearm. Skin surface secretory form of immunoglobulin A (SIgA) concentrations, HBD-2 determination, moisture content of the stratum corneum, staphylococci, and body water loss rate of skin properties were measured in this study to examine immunity of epidermal barriers.
The significant findings of this study reveal an increase in HBD-2 determination, moisture content of the stratum corneum, staphylococci, and body water loss rate, and a significant decrease in SIgA concentration. This means that, after performing on the bicycle-ergometer exercise test at 75%HRmax for 59 minutes, and 50%HRmax for 1 minute, results indicate that this form of high-intensity endurance exercise might enhance the risk of skin infection and depress the immunological and physical barrier. The enhanced biochemical barrier works to supplement the compromised function of other skin barriers.
Athletes that participate in contact sports as well as athletes who train at the gym and use a lot of shared equipment are at risk for skin infections. The results of this study indicate that an athletes’ skin surface is crucial to maintain good condition and avoid microbial invasion.
Tips to health immunity:
- Use a clean towel to wipe away sweat
- Wipe machines down before and after you use them
- Wash your hands constantly
- Lay your towel down on the bench before you use it
- Change out of your gym clothes right after your workout
- Shower immediately after sports activities
Related Article: 10 Ways To Boost Your Immunity
You Might Like:
Akama, T., Eda, N., Lee, E., Shimizu, K., & Suzuki, S. (2013). “Effects of High-Intensity
Endurance Exercise on Epidermal Barriers against Microbial Invasion.” Journal
of Sports Science and Medicine, 12, 44-51.
Johnson, T. (2011). “Stay healthy and infection free at the gym.” American Public Health
Association: The Nation’s Health. Available: http://thenationshealth.aphapublications.org/site/healthyyou/HealthyYouGyms.pd f