ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to avoid bacteria at the gym

Updated on March 12, 2007

We go to the gym to get strong and healthy, so the gym is the last place we would think would be a threat to our well-being, but research shows that workout facilities can be a breeding ground for illnesses ranging from colds and viruses to bacterial infections. Microbiologists have discovered that dangerous bacteria lurk not only in the unpleasant sweaty residue left on gym equipment, but in hot-tubs, changing rooms and even sports drinks bottles. Some of the germs and bacteria can thrive for days in the humid gym environment, and are killed only when the area is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

In a recent survey for Men's Fitness magazine, Dr Derren Ready, a clinical scientist in microbiology at University College Hospital in London, admits he was shocked when swabs taken from one unnamed London gym revealed dangerously high levels of bacteria. One site harbored 132 million bacteria in an area the size of a quarter, while the average count was 16 million, he says. Compare those levels with the 500 bacteria you could expect to find in a similar sample taken from a tiolet seat, and you can see why experts are increasingly concerned.

BACTERIA HOT SPOTS AT THE GYM

Gym Equipment

Expects have found that germs are found in every nook and cranny of the gym. On the bench-press, the bikes, boxing gloves, literally everything. Sweaty residue on gym equipment, particularly the machines often used by several people in quick succession, such as weights and exercise bikes, can also harbor infectious bacteria. The actual sweat is really not a problem, it is primarily the moisture from sweat that causes problems by helping germs to grow.

Locker Rooms and Showers

Locker rooms, and especially showers are found by expects to have a very high number of bacteria, including the types of bacteria which cause athletes feet and ringworm. They showers may look clean, but don't think that gyms cleans the showers like you clean yours at home (if they clean them at all!)

Dirty towels

Dirty towels handed out to members are also a breeding ground for viruses and bateria. Gyms and health clubs are not governed by the same standards as hospitals, which set regulations for the temperature at which towels must be cleaned, so just because the towels say "clean" does not mean they are germ free

Clothing and Accessories

The average pair of running shoes has 76 times more fungi than a toilet bowl! The warm, moist environment acts as a breeding ground for spores. Water bottles are carry germs and bacteria, usually from not being cleaned properly.

Hot-tubs and Swimming Pools

Poorly-maintained hot-tubs and swimming pools can be a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria. And the warm temperature makes matters worse, the chlorine in hot tubs loses much of its disinfecting power, while the germs thrive. Even in cool pool water bacteria can live if the water is not maintained. The best way to prevent such bacteria from forming is to clean out the pipes to the pool, not just clean the pool, but this is open not done by the gym, or not done frequently enough.

Sauna and Steam Room

The wooden benches in saunas and steam rooms which have lots of crevices, providing gaps for bacteria to live and thrive in. And the warm temperature again just makes matters worse, providing the ideal breeding ground for germs and bacteria.

DON'T BE SCARED OFF FROM THE GYM! Going to the gym is still one of the best things you can do for yourself, exercise can help prevent medical problems and boost your mental health- so I really hope I haven't scared you off. And there are some very easy ways to KEEP YOURSELF SAFE! Just follow the rules below:

HOW TO STAY SAFE

(1) Wash your hands thoroughly before and after exercise. I know you hear it all the time, but it is the most effective way to keep off the germs. Those cold-causing viruses and respiratory bacteria don't live for very long outside the body, but while they are alive they are looking for a way into your body. So after touching weights and machine hand rails, try your best to keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, ears and mouth until you can lather up.

(2) Wipe down the machines, preferably with disinfectant wipes, before and after use. Gyms should disinfect them on a regular basis, but it is good gym etiquette to make sure you don't leave a pool of sweat behind you. And it will give you peace of mind to know they are clean before you use them, because you cleaned them!

(3) Bring your own sweat towel, actually, bring two! Place one on machines and benches before you sit down to protect yourself. Use the other to blot sweat off your body. If you bring your own towel, you can ensure it is clean and germ free.

(4) Wash your water bottle, most people just use and refill, in between uses make sure you sterilize your water bottle with boiling water or put it in the dishwasher to kill the germs.

(5) Wipe off yours shoes or leave them outside, your sneakers have a large amount of bacteria, more than most toilet bowls! Don't bring them into your house, and if you have to, make sure you wipe them down with disinfectant.

(6) Wear flip-flops when walking in the shower or sauna. Fungi and bacteria thrive in damp shower stalls. Flip-flops won't keep you fully fungi-free, but it is better than going barefoot.

(7) Sit on a towel or wear shorts in the sauna to avoid direct contact with the seating, which may contain germs and bacteria.

(8) Use your own mat or cover the one you borrow with a clean towel. Otherwise, you could end up coming in contact with bacteria and germs left behind on the mats.

(9) Change your sweaty shorts. You are more likely to develop a yeast or bacterial infection from leaving them on than from anything else you would encounter at the health club. So shed the shorts right after your workout. If you have post-exercise errands to run and can't shower right away, change into dry underwear and shorts first, then wash up and dry off thoroughly at your opportunity.

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • Natashabassett profile image

    Natashabassett 

    11 years ago from Hayward

    Ew this is really gross. I am not going to the gym anymore, and next time i go to that hot tub place where you rent it our for one hour i am bringing somebleach to add to the water.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)