A new take on ‘Germ Warfare’

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. 

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach

You may have noticed that your gym has prominently displayed signs on the fitness center walls, reminding members to wipe down the equipment after use. Nobody wants to get on a machine with sweat droplets lingering from another individual’s grueling workout!  While the staff may make a concerted effort to keep the gym as clean as possible, it may come as a surprise that this is most likely not the most germ-infested locale with which we come in contact on a regular basis.

Despite our best efforts to disinfect our homes and workplaces, the truth is that germs and microorganisms are everywhere: in the air, in our food sources, and even in our bodies. While a healthy immune system has evolved to be equipped to handle the majority of viruses and bacteria which greet us daily, we can most likely help our odds of remaining healthy by being aware of typical areas where unwanted perpetrators tend to congregate.

Cutting boards are notorious for harboring food-borne bacteria, especially from raw meat and poultry.  Unless the cutting board is sufficiently cleaned between uses, it becomes very easy for such bacteria to be transferred to the fruits and vegetables that are also cut on this same board….and then consumed raw.  Make good use of your dishwasher to thoroughly disinfect cutting boards and knives after every use.

Mold, mildew and bacteria love a dark, damp environment ~ much like the one in your coffeepot reservoir. Whether your Mr. Coffee is at home or at the office, regular use leads to a greater risk of such germs lingering and proliferating.  By pouring vinegar into the reservoir, letting it sit for 30 minutes, and then brewing several pots of water through the system, you can remove a significant majority of illness-causing bugs.  Experts recommend doing this once a month.

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In our home, we have a rule about not bringing food upstairs, especially when working on the computer. While this has been set in place to avoid crumbs getting stuck between the crevices of the keyboard, ants should be the least of our worries.  Research has indicated that a computer keyboard harbors more germs than the average toilet seat!  Everything with which our fingers come into contact easily gets transferred to the keyboard; suddenly sending a casual email becomes a lot more potent when viewed in this regard. Most keyboards are resilient enough to handle a good wipe-down with a disinfectant solution.

Keeping our living environments spotlessly clean is an unrealistic goal, since bacteria lurk everywhere.  However, maintaining a regular vigil and using simple hygiene practices can prevent these unwanted germs from multiplying and gaining a stronghold.  Consider it your own personal form of “germ warfare”!