When it comes to exercise, most people focus on working up a good sweat and burning calories. But what you do after your workout is also important for your health, especially as far as showering is concerned.
Of course, not everyone has the time to take a shower right after exercising, particularly when you're just busting out a quick workout on your lunch break. Making time for it can eat into your workout and prove a bit of a hassle. But perhaps more than you realise, showering is not only crucial for maintaining good hygiene. It can prevent a host of health problems that might put you out of action for some time.
When you exercise and your body produces sweat, it does so to regulate your body temperature. As it evaporates, it cools your skin and helps to prevent overheating. However, if you don't shower after exercising, the sweat and bacteria will remain on your skin until you get around to washing it off. This is what can cause issues further down the line.
Dr Ross Perry, Medical Director of Cosmedics skin clinics, sums it up for us: “If you don’t shower after a workout, bacteria grows rapidly on the skin,” he explains, adding that "when you exercise, your skin becomes warm and moist, making it the perfect breeding ground for fungi."
One of the most common problems that can occur when skipping the shower is developing some form of fungal infection. Sure, it might not be life-threatening, but it certainly isn't pleasant! So why exactly does not showering after a workout cause these problems?
Here’s the science
“Depending on the intensity of a workout, bacteria grows quicker in a warm and moist environment, and when we sweat our pores can easily get blocked,” Dr Perry adds. “This can cause common skin conditions like folliculitis - when hair follicles are inflamed.”
Another issue that the doctor says can arise if you don't shower after exercising is body acne. This is because of the sweat and bacteria clogging your pores, leading to the development of pimples and other blemishes. And so leaving sweat on your skin for an extended period of time, which can lead to a build-up of dead skin cells, can also contribute to acne. By simply showering after your workout, you can help to keep your skin clean and prevent this from occurring.
The good news is that by showering after your workout and thoroughly drying off, you can help to prevent these infections from taking hold.
Abbas Kanani, a pharmacist from Online Pharmacy, noted a few other surprising benefits of showering after a workout, explaining how it also helps to reduce inflammation, muscle soreness and cool the body down.
“This will leave you feeling more relaxed and comfortable for your journey back home,” he adds.
What’s more, finishing off your shower with a two-minute cold burst can also help with lactic acid build-up. If you can handle that, you’ll be rewarded. Reducing lactic acid in the body can help relieve delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which - let’s face it - nobody wants!
Bag it up
While showering after exercising is important, what about your sweaty post-gym workout clothes?
Dr Perry recommends giving these a good wash, too, for very similar reasons.
"It's not only important to wash after a workout but, equally, workout clothes need to be washed thoroughly to avoid bacteria being reintroduced onto the skin,” he explains.
If you want to dodge developing a fungal infection, it's also important to note that even if you shower after your workout and then leave your sweaty gym clothes in a bag, they can still harbour bacteria and other irritants. In fact, putting sweaty clothes in the bottom of your gym bag creates an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, leading to further problems down the line.
To combat this, an anti-bacterial Sweat Bag from yours truly can be a surefire way of keeping those bacteria at bay and preventing any growth of fungi while helping to keep your gym clothes clean and fresh.
Designed specifically for your sweaty gym kit, our neat zip-tight bags can be thrown inside your backpack, handbag or gym bag, without running the risk of damping your other belongings. Meanwhile, the machine-washable, antibacterial bag will keep it free from those nasty fungi-causing bacteria until you have the time to wash your kit properly at home. Finally, it boasts a super useful front zipped compartment for separate storage.
What’s more, the new Kit Bag is a third bigger, with a fully waterproof lining, so no worries if your kit is drenched after a hot yoga class, for example - it locks in odours.
So, next time you hit the gym, don't forget to shower after your workout and throw your clothes into a La Pochette sweat bag – your skin will thank you for it!