Winter Wellness: Health Tips for Going to the Gym

Winter Wellness: Health Tips for Going to the Gym
January 31, 2022 Laura Dziomba

Getting in better shape might be at the top of your priority list right now. And for good reason! The beginning of the year is an especially popular time for chasing fitness goals. In fact, somewhere around a third of all New Year’s resolutions are fitness-related, including exercising more or losing weight.

But, do you worry about staying healthy while at the gym? With some simple tips and guidelines, you can learn to protect your health and that of those around you. Here are a few you can start with:

Plan ahead. If you think your gym or fitness center might be crowded, give them a quick call before you head in to see how busy it is. You may even want to schedule your regular workouts during off-peak hours for better social distancing. For instance, if it tends to fill up at lunchtime, try an early-morning routine instead.

Wash your hands and sanitize. During cold and flu season and because of COVID-19, it’s a good idea to wash your hands before and after your workouts. You can also carry a bottle of hand sanitizer to use in a pinch. You might need this, too, while you’re moving from one piece of equipment to another. Also, don’t forget to wipe down machines before and after you use them. And, as much as you can, try not to touch your face (even if it’s to wipe sweat from your brow!)

Follow masking protocols. Depending where you live, rules for wearing masks may vary. You may not need one while you’re working out (although you might feel more comfortable in one, and that’s fine!) Some spots might just require a mask upon entry or in common areas, like the lobby or locker rooms. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the rules in place for your local gym before you go. You can even keep a mask stashed in your gym bag, so you’re always prepared.

Bring some of your own stuff. To help you avoid spreading or picking up germs, you can bring your own gear to the gym. This can include things like water bottles, ankle weights, yoga mats, exercise bands and towels. If you use the pool, you can invest in your own kickboard, flippers or pull buoys. Besides the limiting of germs, this is also a good excuse to splurge on some new equipment!

Stay home if you’re ill. Last of all, if you’re not feeling well, it’s best to skip going to the gym until you feel better. A break will give you the rest you need and ensure you’re not sharing germs with your workout buddies.

Not ready for the gym? Home or outdoor workouts offer more choices

If you don’t feel like venturing out to a gym or fitness center, you still have plenty of alternatives! You can limit your exposure to germs and other gym-goers by sticking to solo outdoor activities like running, biking or going for a challenging hike. And if you live somewhere cold, trying out winter activities like cross-country skiing, ice skating or snowshoeing can add to your options.

Of course, your living room offers a convenient workout spot, too! By adding equipment like a treadmill, elliptical or indoor bike, you can get in shape while staying cozy at home. And if you stream online classes from popular apps, it can be like bringing the gym experience to you.

Remember the basics

Just remember, whatever path you choose, be sure to listen to your body. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or starting a new regimen, you should try to drink plenty of water, fuel up with a healthy diet and stretch out your tired muscles when you’re finished. It’s also important to talk to your doctor before starting a new workout routine. With these tips in hand, you can honor your resolutions, stay strong and achieve your fitness goals in no time!

Additional resources from Meritain Health®

Meritain Health members may have access additional resources through their employers, such as Healthy Merits or Peerfit. Call the number on your ID card today to find out more!

This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant as medical advice.