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Bacteria, virus, fungi, or protozoa—they’re just everywhere. It’s a fact of life that shouldn’t get you scared, though. [firstpara] There are good germs out there in the mix with those that make us sick. The scary thing is, we’re clueless as to how much of the bad do we get with the good, immunity-boosting germs.

While resistance may be futile, there are ways to keep the damage of bad germs under control. Your battle plan starts with the everyday things and places (and people) you encounter. Some of these contagion habitats are common, some are surprising. Swat the bugs away in these following areas before they do any harm.

1. The gym
Dirt scale:
7/10
You hit the gym to be healthy and fit. What lurks beneath the common things you see there may give you second thoughts, though. The wet shower floor of the locker room is home to the athlete’s foot-causing dermatophyte fungus. Rhinoviruses that cause the common cold has been found in 63 percent of the gym equipments at fitness centers, a study in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine shows. And the polyester gloves you commonly use to lift weights? Japanese scientists say they’re perfect habitat for staph bacteria.

Be the Germinator:
Wear rubber sandals when you shower. And forget the soap if you drop it. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer should always be part of your gym stuff. And avoid touching your face in-between sets. Pester your gym to have hand sanitizers or disinfectant wipes. Also, no gloves not only means a germ-safe workout, but bare hands lifting strengthens your grip.

2. The pantry/carinderia/food court/convenience store table
Dirt scale: 8/10
Wet tables may look freshly cleaned but take note that the cleanup rag used is usually the same for hours—maybe even throughout the day. Such dirt rags carry diarrhea-causing microbes, and they now settle where you eat. How’s your appetite?

Be the Germinator:
Make sure you keep your spoon, fork, cup lid, even coffee stirrer off the table surface. And while you’re in a restaurant, wash your hands after you order. Have you seen anyone disinfect restaurant menus? Keep the menu off anything that will come near your mouth, too.

3. The grocery cart
Dirt scale:
9/10
You think a public restroom’s dirty. Here’s something filthier: the handles of grocery carts. A University of Arizona study found that two-thirds of grocery carts have fecal bacteria on the handles. The amount of these germs found in grocery cart handles outnumber the amount that the average public bathroom carry.


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PHOTO COURTESY OF OCEAN'S 13 (2007, WARNER BROS PICTURE)

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