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SURPRISING PLACES GERMS LURK IN THE GYM

Pat yourself on the back if you regularly go to the gym to improve your fitness, strengthen your heart and lower your blood pressure. But first, wash your hands. Gyms are filled with germs and bacteria from the bathroom soap dispensers to the water fountains, and just touching them and then touching your mouth or nose could make you sick, especially if your immune system is compromised. Prevention magazine has identified the germiest hot spots in the gym, some of which may surprise you.

1. Your gym bag
Where do you toss your gym bag? From the trunk of your car to the locker room floor, germs hitch a ride on the bottom of the bag. How to zap the germs: Keep a can of Lysol in your bag and spray it after each use.

2. Your water bottle
When you open the top of your water bottle after a workout where you have touched gym machines, fitness balls and the like, you are transferring the germs on your hands to the bottle top and then into your mouth. How to zap the germs: Get a reusable water bottle with a spout you can pull open with your mouth instead of your hands. Also, fill your water bottle at home.

3. TV remote control
How can anyone endure a treadmill without a TV? The built-in remote controls on cardio machines are breeding grounds for the worst kind of germs, including MRSA and E. coli. How to zap the germs: Don't touch your face while you're working out. Once you're done with the cardio machine, wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based gel.

4. Bathroom soap dispenser
While you're supposed to wash your hands to rid them of the harmful bacteria you've picked up in the gym, some of the worst germs are lurking in the bathroom soap dispensers. How to zap the germs: Use a paper towel to touch the soap dispenser before your hands touch it.

5. Water fountain
Uh oh. Forgot your water bottle? Not only is the button to turn on the water fountain rife with germs, but so is the spout. How to zap the germs: Carry disposable wipes and clean the button and spout before drinking from it. 

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