As more and more people opt for at-home workouts in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, a new survey shows our hygiene habits are starting to pay the price.
Ever since we were plunged into lockdown thanks to COVID-19, searches for at-home workouts have skyrocketed. With most gyms either still closed or operating at a reduced capacity, people have been getting their workout fix from their living room with online exercise classes (like these ones from b+s) and free dance lessons.
And while it’s great to see that so many people have been able to maintain their exercise routine or start a completely new one, working out at home has caused some of us to adopt a not-so-healthy habit: Skipping the post-workout shower.
According to a survey by UK-based business Showerstoyou.co.uk, 93 per cent of people complete a home workout at least once a week, but a whopping 73 per cent of fitness buffs avoid the shower for as long as they can.
43 per cent of respondents also admitted they don’t change out of their workout gear until hours after their sweat session, and 18 per cent don’t make it to the shower at all.
Not changing out of activewear isn’t the only thing at-home exercisers are guilty of. Apparently, 31 per cent of gym bunnies re-wear their outfit at least three to four times before throwing them in the washing machine (FYI, if you need some activewear inspo, click here), and 59 per cent of people don’t give their equipment a wipe down once they’ve finished using them.
Guilty of at least one of these post-workout habits? As you can see, you’re not alone, but that doesn’t make it okay.
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Your guide to post-workout hygiene
Clean your workout kit
We’re talking about both your equipment (think kettlebells, dumbbells and resistance bands) as well as your clothes, especially if you worked up a sweat. Bacteria like E. coli and Staphylococcus thrive in warm, damp conditions, so unless you want to grow a colony of germs (and give yourself a bad rash the next time you pull on those sweaty tights or sports bra), toss your activewear in the wash and clean your equipment.
“It is very important to clean home workout equipment, but I wouldn’t use DIY blends like vinegar or bleach,” says Martin Smith, spokesperson for Showerstoyou.co.uk.
“These can sometimes to be too harsh, especially when applied to rubber material. Instead, try using bleach-free and alcohol-free disinfectant wipes designed specifically for specialist equipment. Also, remember to clean the space you work out in too, especially if you are doing something like yoga, which has a lot of close contact with the floor.”
Always have a shower
Not only will your sweat start to smell if you don’t shower within an hour or two of working out, bacteria, fungus and yeast can start to multiply as well. In the short-term, this can lead to a pungent odour, and in the long-term experts say it can lead to skin irritation like heat rashes as well as aggravate existing skin conditions like eczema. Not to mention it can potentially cause a yeast infection.
“Think you don’t need to shower because you don’t stink? Wrong,” says Shoshana Eisner, pharmacist and founder of QED Skincare. “Firstly, if you sweated at all (even if it has evaporated already and you are no longer sweaty), you will have a fine coating of electrolytes and potential toxins ALL over your body,” she says.
If you regularly skip a post-workout rinse, you also run the risk of clogging the pores on your face and body with sweat and bacterial overgrowth, which can lead to a whole bunch of skin woes, says Eisner.
“You know how your face goes red when exercising? And you also start to breathe faster and your heart beats harder? These are signs that your blood vessels are widening and increasing blood flow. This causes your pores to widen, and other than more sweat coming out, they can also pump out more oil,” Eisner explains.
“If you don’t wash your skin well after a workout, this can lead to worsening acne, bacne and potentially infected hair follicles and in-grown hairs.”
Don’t have time to shower right after your session? Use a face and body wipe designed to cleanse away workout grime, like the CliniqueFIT Post-Workout Face + Body Cleansing Swipes ($18.20 at Clinique), sop up sweat in your hair with the Bumble and Bumble Pret-a-Powder Post Workout Dry Shampoo Mist ($48 at Mecca) and nix germs with some QED Skincare Hand Sanitiser ($24 at QED).