The Dirtiest Things at Your Gym

The point of working out is to improve health—don’t let germs get in your way

Flickr/Pieter Baert

We all have our own reasons for going to the gym, but everyone has at least one common motivation—the desire to be healthy. Getting in shape is no easy feat but it turns out the very tool that should be helping us—the gym—may also be temporarily derailing our efforts. 

A study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found that a total of 63 percent of all equipment tested from fitness centers was positive for bacteria that could make humans sick. The same study said that weight equipment was more likely to carry this bacteria than cardio equipment (73 percent compared with 51 percent). But the most interesting finding from the study was that even disinfecting the equipment twice daily didn’t significantly bring down the amount of bacteria. 

Most people only worry about catching a cold or flu in the winter, but you can be infected at any time of the year. These germs are no excuse to start skipping workouts, though—there are a few things you can do to avoid these germs. Try not to touch your face, as that gives germs a fast track into your body and bring hand sanitizer for after your workout. Also be sure to clean and dry all equipment properly. Read on to find out the dirtiest spots in your gym and specific tips to keep you germ-free while you stay fit.

Yoga Mats

Your gym’s communal mats are great for stretching and especially helpful in group yoga class but they are often overlooked when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting. Mats that aren’t cleaned well can spread skin infections like athlete’s foot and staph infections. The best way to avoid these and other health issues is to bring your own yoga mat and to clean and dry it properly after each use.

Free Weights Kettle Bells and Other Strength Training Equipment

Strength training equipment is used quickly and shared by lots of people. While we all know we’re supposed to clean each piece of equipment after each use, many people overlook the free weights and kettle bells. Cold and flu infections can be found on this equipment, so it’s important to wipe it down before and after to avoid getting sick.

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