You might be going to the gym regularly to improve your health. But if you’re not careful enough, you might end up catching a virus that could sabotage your health too.
Machines Are Used By Multiple People
Almost all gyms today provide antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizers, and alcohol so members can conveniently clean the equipment for the next person to use.
Cleaning your mat or wiping down the treadmill after you finish your workout is a way to protect the health of the next person to use it. However, you should make sure you clean the equipment before using it too. That’s because not everyone else is doing the same.
Gym Equipment Carries Serious Germs
Germs are expected in gyms no matter how “clean” or organized equipment looks inside. Since dozens of people use gym equipment daily, it’s not surprising how germs and bacteria can quickly spread from one machine to the next.
In one study, researchers found that exercise bikes contain over 1.3 million colony-forming units per square inch while free weights have 1.1 million.
Some of the most common bacteria found in gym equipment are athlete’s foot, staph, ringworm, common cold, and MSRA.
Filthy gym equipment can also contain Klebsiella which can result in a variety of infections, including pneumonia and UTI. This bacteria spreads through contact, so any shared surfaces like cardio machines, weights, and locker rooms are to blame.
Another thing to worry about is E.coli which is a common bacterium found in stools. E.coli infections can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and cramps, and can lead to pneumonia as well.
Prevent Illness Before it Begins
All those illnesses and infections sound scary but the good news is you can protect yourself from any of them by simply disinfecting your equipment before use.
Some pieces of equipment contain a higher concentration of pathogens and microorganisms than others. If you’re using any of these during your workouts, be sure to disinfect them:
- Yoga mats
- Free weights
- Exercise bikes
- Leg press machines
- Weight benches
Prevent Sports Equipment from Smelling
Cleaning gym equipment before and after use is critical to staying safe from infection. Aside from eliminating illness-causing germs and bacteria, regularly cleaning gym equipment makes a big difference in extending the life of your gear. It’s also a good practice for preventing smells, stains, and other potential damage.
How to Disinfect at the Gym
Just as important as understanding why you need to disinfect gym equipment before and after a workout is knowing how to do it.
The best approach is by using a hydrogen peroxide disinfecting spray, then wiping down the surfaces with a microfiber cloth or wipes.
Make sure they’re completely dry as the cleanser needs time to kill the bacteria. Good disinfecting solutions can get rid of germs and bacteria in as fast as 30 seconds. Plus, gym equipment will be a little slippery if you don’t let them dry first.
Steps to Prevent Getting Bacterial Infections
Make your regular trips to the gym safe by following these steps to prevent bacterial infections:
Clean the Equipment
It’s important to use a high-quality disinfectant spray to get rid of germs and bacteria before and after you use the equipment. Look for a fragrance-free product because strong scents can disrupt other people and can trigger asthma or allergies in some gym-goers.
Sharing is caring, but not in fitness gear unless you want to share a staph infection. Make sure to bring your own towel, exercise clothes, water bottle, toiletries, etc. If you could bring your own exercise or yoga mat, much better.
Take a Shower
Don’t wait around in your gym clothes for too long after a sweaty workout, especially if you’ve used the gym equipment. Taking a shower right away is the best way to get rid of bacteria that could enter your body and cause infection. Bring your own soap and toiletries if showering at the gym.
Pay Attention to Your Symptoms
As much as possible, avoid going to the gym if you have a cut, scrape, or wound as they become an entryway for germs and bacteria. If you experience any symptoms of infection, postpone your next trip to the gym and have yourself checked by a doctor.
Choose A Gym That Is Committed To Cleanliness
Look for a gym that prioritizes the health and safety of its members by adopting a thorough cleaning and disinfection process. Ask the staff about their cleaning procedures, like how often they clean equipment and how they do it.
Wash and Sanitize Your Hands
Wash and sanitize your hands immediately after your workout. You also want to make sure that your hands are clean before using any gym equipment. Keep a bottle of alcohol or hand sanitizer nearby so you can sanitize your hands as often as you can.
Pack Dirty Clothes Properly
Bring a plastic bag where you can put dirty workout clothes and towels before keeping them in your bag to prevent contamination.
Cleaning gym equipment before and after your workout should be something you do religiously to protect yourself and others from contracting illnesses and infections.
Remember to bring disinfecting spray and wipes every time you go to the gym so you can conveniently disinfect machines and surfaces. Lastly, remember that staying healthy at the gym goes beyond cleaning the equipment.
You can protect your health further by not sharing fitness gear, washing and sanitizing your hands, paying attention to your symptoms, and separating dirty gym clothes from the rest of your clean stuff.