Body odour, clogged pores and skin infections are just some of the things that can be expected if a shower isn’t included in your post-workout routine.
I spoke to Luke Hughes a PT at OriGym who has warned of the damage you could be doing to your skin and body when you choose to exclude a post-gym body washing session.
Why do we sweat & what are the benefits?
When we exercise our body’s natural reaction is to sweat in an effort to regulate our internal temperature.
Not only does this cool our body down, it also filters out any bad toxins and boosts our immune system. Although sweating is vital for our health, we need to make sure we’re practising good personal hygiene habits to wash away all the nastiness that comes with a heavy workout.
Making sure you’re clean and using the shower regularly doesn’t just keep nasty body odour at bay, but it can also have some great benefits for your mental health.
Cold showers, in particular, are great for our mental health and can be enjoyed before or after your workout. They can leave us feeling more awake, increase our energy levels as well as productivity, by giving us chance to enjoy some self-reflection and get our priorities in order.
Showering after a workout is not only a necessary step to take to wash away bodily fluids and bacteria produced by getting sweaty, but it is also an effective way of reducing the build-up of lactic acid – which is created when our muscles are put under stress from a workout.
But what happens if we don’t shower after a workout? Here are some health conditions that can arise when you skip that post-workout shower:
1. Face & Body Acne
Often a red and sweaty face can indicate a brilliant workout, as the body heats up and the blood flows around our body, our cheeks get rosy and our face begins to sweat.
We can also feel the mental benefits of those all-important endorphins running around our brain, but we need to make sure our face and body is thoroughly cleansed when we finish.
When we sweat, our pores open up and if this sweat isn’t effectively washed away the sweat and sebum will seep back into the skin. This can lead to clogged pores and, ultimately, acne.
It’s also important to make sure any makeup is removed before you start exercising, as that can also be absorbed into the skin as you sweat!
2. Athletes’ Foot & Fungal Nails
Getting our feet moving by hitting a step goal or running on the treadmill is something encouraged by all health and fitness experts so we can lead a healthy lifestyle.
Something that’s not spoken about as often, is the importance of making sure those feet are clean after you’ve put them through their paces.
Athletes’ foot, fungal nail infections and a pongy smell are just some of the things you can look forward to if you don’t practice proper hygiene after hitting the gym!
To prevent athletes’ foot and fungal nail infections make sure you wash and thoroughly dry your feet after a workout, change into clean socks and avoid walking barefoot in public areas in the gym.
3. Body Odour
Sweat patches can often be seen as a sign of a great workout, there’s nothing wrong with sweaty armpits as long as we’re keeping body odour at bay by washing after a heavy session.
Armpits are warm, dark and often moist making them the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive, which causes the smell of body odour.
To keep the smell at bay, use an effective deodorant before hitting the gym, shower thoroughly when you’re finished and then apply more deodorant.
4. Colds & Infections
After Covid, we all know the importance of washing our hands regularly throughout the day.
A simple and regular hand cleaning routine can prevent the spreading of a variety of infections, from the common cold to threadworms and conjunctivitis.
This is even more important in a gym setting.
When we’re in the gym we touch surfaces that hundreds of other people have touched and passed their bacteria onto, this could be a door handle, a toilet flush or a barbell.
Public places where people come to get sweaty and work out are a hive for infections and bacteria.
So, to prevent catching an infectious illness sanitise your hands and your workout station after using each piece of equipment.
5. Yeast Infections
Similar to our armpits, as our groin is covered in hair follicles and a high concentration of sweat glands, these are the areas most prone to excessive moisture.
By skipping a shower and staying in sweaty workout clothes you could land a nasty yeast infection or skin rash.
Fortunately, taking a warm shower after the gym will rinse away the bacteria from our groin, and leave us feeling clean and fresh.
Ladies, when you do wash in between your legs make sure you’re not using highly perfumed body washes, this can alter the PH of the vagina and cause bacterial vaginosis and thrush other yeast infections.
Luke Hughes, Level 4 Personal Trainer and MD at Origym said: “Making sure you’re clean prior to entering and leaving the gym is a must, not just for the people you’re sharing the gym with, but also for your own health.
“Practising good hand-washing is also important, you wouldn’t want to pick up a dumbbell knowing that someone has just sneezed into their hands and trained with it.
“Adding a shower to your post-gym routine wont just leave you clean, but it’s the perfect way to ease muscle soreness and prevent delayed onset muscle soreness.”