The Effects of Exercise on Hygiene

Young woman performing warming up exercises

While you might hear the word "hygiene" and immediately think of washing your hands, the term actually refers to any practice that preserves a sense of health and well-being. As far as total-body hygiene goes, exercise is one of the best things you can do to stay healthy, as long as you get in the habit of cleanliness. By seeing the effects that exercise has on your overall hygiene, you might be more willing to make them both priorities.

Personal Hygiene

Some people find that exercising actually helps improve their skin, thanks to sweat and proper hydration, but a smart post-exercise routine is crucial. While exercise is -- for the most part -- completely beneficial for your body, you might notice that it affects the way you care for your skin and hair. After all, sweat can lead to greasy hair and, sometimes, acne breakouts. Soon after you exercise, ditch your workout clothes and get cleaned up with a shower. Doing so can limit trapped bacteria and ensure you get the best benefits from your workout.

Gym Hygiene

If you exercise at a gym, it should affect the way you interact with patrons and machines. Because machines are used by a community, it's important that you wipe down machines before and after you use them -- this will help reduce the spread of germs. If you're taking advantage of the gym shower and sauna facilities, always wear shower shoes, suggests Simmons College. Gym floors harbor bacteria that could lead to fungal infections. Then, make sure you sanitize your hands as you leave the facilities. If you use your own machines, it's still a good idea to wipe them down with an antibacterial solution every few weeks to keep them clean.

Sleep Hygiene

Exercise is an excellent way to combat sleep disorders, suggests the University of Maryland Medical Center. Exercising can help you get to sleep easier, particularly when you exercise late in the afternoon. While it's never been proven scientifically, some complain that evening exercise can be too energizing and actually make it harder to fall asleep. You can experiment with different times of day and see which routine is most likely to help you get to sleep at night.

Mental Hygiene

Your mental health is one of the most important factors in your overall well-being, and exercise can help you maintain excellent mental health. According to the American Psychological Association, exercise is responsible for the release of mood-boosting endorphins that can help battle stress and increase feelings of wellness. In fact, the APA points out that exercise is often an important component of treatment plans for both anxiety and depression. Still, you should always talk to your doctor about how exercise could benefit your mental health if you're currently using a treatment plan.