The realities of sharing gym equipment with potentially thousands of others means it’s likely you’re going to come into contact with a few germs along the way.
While you might be a conscientious sanitiser, wiping down gear before and after use, your fellow gym goers may not, turning your workout space into a veritable bacteria breeding ground, according to new research for Fitrated.
The study gathered samples from 27 different pieces of equipment at three different gyms to get an idea of how many germs you may encounter when you touch some of the more commonplace equipment.
How to avoid gym germs:
Disinfect machines both before and after use
Never walk around barefoot – the shower stall is riddled with fungi
Don’t touch your face
Always wash your hands
Change out of your gym clothes immediately after a workout
Collected samples revealed the treadmill, exercise bike, and free weight areas are all saturated with germs – averaging more than one million per square inch.
Though there might be tendency to think exposure to bacteria can help boost an immune system, the germs you’re likely to encounter while exercising could lead to a range of illnesses and skin infections.
The research showed that 70 per cent of bacteria found was potentially harmful, and in some cases the germs were antibiotic resistant.
The bacteria found to be most prevalent across all equipment was gram-positive cocci – a germ that commonly causes pneumonia and septicemia.
Germ samples taken from exercise bikes and free weights also turned up Bacillus – a potential cause of ear, eye, and respiratory infections.
The data further revealed that on average free weights harbour 362 times more germs than a toilet seat, while a treadmill is likely to host 74 time bacteria than a typical public bathroom tap.
An exercise bike showed it was 39 times more germ-riddled than your average food-court or cafeteria tray.
Though wiping down equipment with disinfectant wipes readily available at most gyms does kill some bugs, a study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine showed 63 percent of machines still carried traces of rhinovirus, which causes the common cold.
Additional recommendations include avoiding bottles with a pull-up spout or built in straw as these areas can be difficult to clean. Instead, choose a bottle with a screw cap, empty and wash it daily and store it in the fridge.