As much as I'd enjoy the view in an NFL locker room, after reading the latest news on Staphylococcus infections in football players, I will pass up any forthcoming invitations. As this ESPN.com story nicely summarizes, the Cleveland Browns's Kellen Winslow is only the latest player to develop an infection from staph, which usually sits harmlessly on our skin but can turn dangerous when it gets into our bodies via a cut or scrape. Other high school, college, and pro athletes in sports including wrestling and baseball have also come down with staph infections in recent years, in some cases MRSA, the potentially deadly strain that is immune to antibiotics. It's not always clear where these and other infections originate, but athletes are at risk because they tend to get nicks and cuts, to have skin-to-skin contact with teammates and opponents, and to share equipment and towels.
That doesn't give you another excuse to hit the snooze button rather than working out, however. Doctors say the benefits of exercise far outweigh the small chance of acquiring staph or another infection at the gym or in the course of your fitness routine. And, they say, you can take some common-sense steps to protect yourself: