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Q:Do flip-flops really protect me from catching something in the shower? The water pools right up onto my feet!

A: Public shower stalls are hands-down the germiest place in the gym. The warm, moist environment makes them a dream breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. Flip-flops help a little bit, but you're right: If there are stagnant pools of water and you step in them, you might as well be stepping in barefoot! The thing you're most likely to catch is athlete's foot-a treatable but annoying fungal infection-but there are plenty of other nasty bugs out there. Your gym should always be cleaning the showers (and the walls, which are equally gross) in between users. If you don't notice your health club doing this essential step, wait until you get home to shower off. But what if you're heading back to work or out and really need to wash up there? Avoid shower stalls with visible pools of standing water, don't touch the walls, and make it a quickie.

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