Wash Your Hands {#HealthBeforeFitness}


“Take off your shoes and wash your hands.”

My kids have heard me say this a million times. Handwashing is something we take seriously in my house. I’m no Howie Mandel, but this time of year, my germ-dar is on high alert. No matter how many times we remind our kiddos to cover when they cough, use their elbow, grab a tissue or at least pull up their shirt, ultimately, the air is full of germs for us to inhale and digest unless you do what you can to prevent: wash your hands.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that to stay healthy, handwashing should be done specifically during key times like food preparation, before eating, after caring for a loved one who is sick, after using the toilet or changing a diaper, anytime you blow your nose, sneeze or cough, after touching animals or handling pet food or animal waste, and after taking out the trash. The moral of the story – if you’ve touched anything at all – before your hands touch your face, your mouth, food, or anything that could come in contact with others, wash your hands.

With five simple steps, using just warm water and soap, you can prevent germs from creeping into your home: wet, lather, scrub, rinse, and dry. Yes – drying matters, as germs like damp surfaces. And while I try to be as green as I can (even with those silly paper straws that melt into my drink), paper towels are better than blow dryers as they blow germs (i.e., fecal matter) back onto you. If you want to keep the Earth healthy, here’s one of my favorite TedTalk demos of how to use just one paper towel – the struggle is real with my small kids and their tiny hands. I also like to keep a dishtowel in my diaper bag for this reason when we are out and about that I can drop in the wash when we get home.

Singing a song like Happy Birthday, the Itsy Bitsy Spider, or in our case, Elvis’s Can’t Help Falling in Love, will help you complete your 20-30 second recommended window. And, there are some nice, free materials from the CDC to post on walls or bulletin boards if you are in a position to do so to help others to wash their hands.

On the topic of germs, the FDA reported there is no added benefit to using antibacterial soaps, which is why they are no longer marketed to the general public as such. Hand sanitizers and wipes do work and help when you are on the go or may not have easy access to soap and water to wash your hands (yes, I keep a full bottle in my car’s vomit box and in a cup holder up front, a to-go version in my purse, and another bottle on my desk at work).

And, in case you’re curious, NSF International conducted a study and found the germiest places in the home are:

  • Dish sponge/rag
  • Kitchen sink
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Pet bowl
  • Coffee reservoir
  • Bathroom faucet handle
  • Pet toy
  • Countertop
  • Stove knobs
  • Cutting board

Anyone else feel dirty? Excuse me, I’m headed to go and find my Lysol.

This is the first in a series I’m going to call #HealthBeforeFitness. While this time of year we often start to feel guilty about not exercising, or start to plan our course of action in the New Year, it can be more important to prioritize health behaviors before beginning a fitness routine. I’ll share topics from the lens of being a mom, but also having a PhD in Health Education and a certification in Health Coaching, so I promise the recommendations are legit.


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