You may want to think twice before hitting the gym.

There are tons of people coming in and out of the gym every day, so it’s safe to assume that gyms are a little germy. But, a little is quite the understatement. A new study shows gym equipment like treadmills, exercise bikes, and free weights harbor more germs than a bathroom.

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To evaluate the cleanliness of gyms, FitRated, a company that reviews fitness equipment, recruited an environmental testing lab. The lab took bacteria from 27 different pieces of equipment at three different gyms, all of which are members of chains with locations nationwide. Treadmills, exercise bikes and free weights were among the equipment tested, and what they found sounds pretty gross.

The results show the average exercise bike holds 39 times more bacteria than a reusable plastic cafeteria tray, while treadmills contain 74 times more bacteria than a water faucet. But, free weights are the grossest of all. They harbor 362 times more bacteria than a toilet seat.

Over 70% of the bacteria found are potentially harmful to humans, according to the report, while some are harmless or actually helpful. But, being exposed to bad bacteria doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get sick, though it does increase your risk. Your body’s immune response system defends against bacteria that appear harmful.

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“Considering the sheer number of people who touch gym equipment in a facility during any given day, it should come as no surprise that the surfaces are less than spotless,” explains FitRated in the report.

Being an extremely high-traffic area, it’s impossible for a gym to be completely germ-free. We all know germs are everywhere, and gym staff routinely disinfect equipment and do what they can to keep the facility clean. And, gym goers are asked to wipe down equipment after they use it.

To minimize your risk of getting sick, you should also clean equipment before you use it, just in case it wasn’t done by the prior user. Avoid touching your face, do not walk barefoot, and wash your hands and change out of your gym clothes immediately after working out. If you follow these hygienic tips, you shouldn’t have to worry.

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One Response

  1. emma

    These are kind of intimidating stats, but I’ve been working out at a gym for about a year now and I’ve found that I get sick less now, not more. I’ve always admired how clean they keep my gym, and I guess it’s paid off!

    Reply

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