Can I Work Out With a New Piercing or Tattoo?

Tattooed woman with braids, in a sports bra and yoga pants, listening to music on a smartphone
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If you're wondering what effects exercise could have on a new tattoo or piercing, you're not alone. But it's a little different between piercings and tattoos.

Piercing Healing and Exercise

As long as you're keeping your piercing clean, it shouldn't be harmed by your workout routine. Sweat can, however, irritate a piercing and introduce germs and bacteria. Remember, a piercing constitutes a wound. It's important that you shower and clean the piercing well after your workout is complete. Also, if you are sharing equipment with others, disinfect the equipment before and after you use it so you aren't spreading your germs to others.

The location of the piercing might also present an issue. While pierced ears will only experience sweat, a belly button piercing or nipple piercing can experience rubbing from the motions of exercise. You may want to choose exercises that won't result in repetitive motion rubbing the area of the piercing. Cycling might be a better choice than running, because there's no jiggling in the chest area. Unless you have an impeccable sports bra, breast bounce when you're running or doing aerobic forms of exercise is kind of inevitable, and can be very irritating. The same is true if your clothing rubs against piercings anywhere on your body. Consider the kind of clothing you wear—if you normally wear yoga pants, it might be time for sweats. 

New Tattoos and Exercise

It's best to skip the gym for a day or two after getting a new tattoo. During that time, there may be bleeding or a secretion of other fluids, and that can be an entry point for bacteria. Plus, your body fluids shouldn't be shared with others. A tattoo is ultimately a wound and needs to be protected. If you must hit the gym keep, your tattoo covered with a gauze bandage. Follow all of the aftercare instructions for keeping your new piece of body art clean, moist, and protected from the sun.

If your tattoo is in an area that will be stretched or flexed a lot during exercise, it's best to put that exercise off for a few days. For example, running will flex and expand your calf muscles, which could be stressful for the new tattoo. Choose exercises that won't result in working the muscles close to the tattoo, or flexing a joint that has a new tattoo. Your tattoo artist may have recommendations as well, so don't be shy about asking for guidance.

A Note on Swimming

It's best to avoid swimming for an entire month after your piercing or tattoo unless you can cover the entire area with a waterproof bandage. If you just can't stay out of the pool, be sure to clean immediately after swimming. Many pools today are foregoing the chlorine because of the toxins and using sea salt, which can still sting and burn. Swimming in natural bodies of water carries the highest risk of infection, but even chlorinated pools can be a source of germs.    

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