When you get home from a tough workout, you probably want nothing more than to collapse on your couch in exhaustion and binge-watch a few episodes of your latest Netflix addiction. Sadly, your body is begging you not to do that before taking a cleansing shower and changing clothes.
Exercising generates a great deal of sweat, which is good for you in some ways; it clears out your pores and can help you lose weight. However, sweat becomes the enemy when it’s stuck to your clothing and pressed up against your body for too long.
If you’re someone who likes to lounge about in their workout gear after finishing their time at the gym, here are some of the dreaded consequences you might start to deal with.
When damp, nasty clothing sticks to your body, it can trap bacteria and dirt in your pores. That’s why you’ll notice red bumps and potentially cystic body acne more when you’ve been working out. As soon as you get home after burning calories at the gym, strip off your clothing and hop in the shower to rinse away bacteria and potential blemishes.
If you can’t shower right away due to time constraints or your commute length, at least wipe off your sweaty body with a clean towel and change into clothes that aren’t full of sweat.
You already know that B.O. is no stranger in the gym, but do you really want that smell to linger on your body and clothes long after you’re done working out? Your sweat-wicking workout clothes tend to absorb your sweat, and as a result, they can actually smell worse than your body does. Take them off as quickly as you can and make sure to wash them before they stink up the inside of your gym bag or laundry basket.
Bacteria loves to thrive in wet, warm environments, so when you don’t change out of your moist gym clothes, you’re providing them with the perfect breeding ground. Plus, the gym is full of bacteria that hides on workout equipment and floors that have soaked up sweat.
The longer you stay in bacteria-infested clothing, the higher your risk of worrisome infections (like staph) becomes. Err on the side of caution and take off your clothing after every workout as soon as you can.
Bacteria isn’t the only thing that likes to grow on your gym clothes; fungi like the damp environment, too. That’s how some people develop problems like yeast infections or skin fungi after working out. Keep in mind that fungi can start growing in just an hour or so, so showering ASAP is a must if you worked up a sweat.
Although you might mistake those red spots on your butt, back, and legs for some kind of acne, it’s probably the result of irritated hair follicles that have been rubbed on sweaty clothing for too long. The sooner you scrub your skin and free it from bacteria and other contaminants, the smoother your skin will look later on.
Every exerciser knows that chafing can cause serious discomfort. By wearing your sweaty clothing for long periods of time after you leave the gym, you’ll actually increase your risk of chafing as you walk around, causing uncomfortable skin irritation and red rashes. In serious situations, chafing can even cause swelling or bleeding.
Athlete’s foot is the dreaded disease of the locker room. The longer you wear your close-fitting, tight workout shoes, the higher your risk of developing food fungus and other skin issues becomes. Even if you can’t shower after your workout, at least put on a clean pair of socks to prevent them from soaking in all that excess sweat.
No matter how hard you go at the gym, don’t underestimate the effect sweaty workout clothes can have on your body. Take fifteen minutes to shower and prevent future infections and discomfort while you can. At a minimum, at least change your clothing so that you’re not marinating in your own bacteria as you tackle the rest of your day.