During a cruise last spring I took some classes in Pilates. We used blue spongy yoga mats, and I remember thinking to myself each time I picked one from the pile in the corner, “Are these things ever cleaned?

Well, in a The New York Times article about the risk of infection from communal yoga mats, one doctor reported a 50% increase in patients with athlete?s foot and plantar warts. Yoga was a common finding, and he blames the use of unclean exercise mats.

Maybe so, but “research,” the article continues, “has not confirmed the link between unclean yoga mats and ? jock itch, plantar warts, and staph infections.” It could just be related to the increasing popularity of yoga. In 2005, 16.5 million people practiced yoga nationwide, up 43% from 2002, according to Yoga Journal.

The article recommends buying your own mat. Yoga Journal has recommendations for cleaning it.

7/27/06 22:23 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.