As the coronavirus continues its spread—propelled by humans coming into close contact with each other—we’ve all become aware of the seemingly simple steps that can quell this microbes’ increasingly scary march across the nation. But the prime directive to stop touching your face can be a tough one to adhere to for dudes that workout a lot. During an intense exercise session (at home or in your local park), there’s gonna be a lot of face touching that’s mostly spurred on by sweat—rolling down your brow, getting in your eyes, making your face itch. 

The plea to keep your filthy paws away from your face (especially if you haven’t washed them after being out and about) is touted because the virus can survive on various surfaces for up to three days, the National Institutes of Health reports. A recent study found that the coronavirus was detectible in aerosol sprays for close to three hours, on cardboard up to 24 hours, and on plastic and stainless steel for three days.

“Avoid touching your face especially when a contagious virus is spreading,” says Denise Pate, M.D., an internal medicine physician with the Medical Offices of Manhattan in NYC. “Viruses can easily transmit by touching contaminated surfaces followed by your face like eyes, nose, and mouth.” 

And besides the face-wiping potential of a sweat session, just sitting around living life in general offers lots of urges to touch all parts of your head. If you stopped and counted how many times you unconsciously touch your face throughout the day, not even looking at when you had a legitimate itch to scratch, eye to rub, or ear lobe to pull, it would shock you.

A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Infection Control found that, on average, we put our hands and fingers all over our face over 20 times an hour. And then imagine them covered in bacteria and viruses and it’s no wonder why top health experts like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list limiting face-touching as a key way to keep the coronavirus out of your body.

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