Ick factor: 5 germiest places at the gym


Row of dumbbells

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Germs and bacteria thrive anywhere there’s sweat or skin-to-surface contact, which is virtually every area in a gym. A recent study conducted by Coverall Health-Based Cleaning System identified five specific surfaces in gyms that present the greatest health risk for germ transmission.

  1. Interior entrance door handles and push plates

  2. Shower floors

  3. Free weight benches and bars

  4. Dumbbells

  5. Mats and all cardio and weight training machine touchpoints

These high-touch surfaces are frequently used every day, making the potential for germ buildup greater than other areas.

The comprehensive study measured surface hygiene levels using Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP) readings. ATP is used to measure surface levels of biological contamination.


What you can do to stay healthy in the gym?

The responsibility of maintaining the cleanest facilities possible falls on gym owners and managers, and part of their responsibility is educating gym patrons on how to stay healthy while working out. There’s a lot that gym-goers can do to protect themselves from contracting germs at the gym. Here are some tips to follow to ensure you get the healthiest possible workout experience:

  • Always wear flip flops in the shower and when walking around the locker room to avoid contracting a fungal skin infection.

  • Use antifungal powder in your gym shoes to stop bacteria and fungus from developing.

  • Sweaty socks are breeding grounds for fungi — change your socks often.

  • Don’t store damp towels or clothing in your gym bag.

  • Bring your own soap to the gym.

  • Don’t share towels.

  • Wash gym shoes in a hot water cycle occasionally.

  • Bring your own water bottle to the gym — drinking fountains are heavily contaminated with germs.

  • Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth whenever possible.

  • Always wipe down equipment and machines before use, including mats and cardio machines. Bring your own wipes if the gym doesn’t supply them.

  • To avoid getting others sick, don’t exercise when you’re feeling under the weather.

  • After working out, wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (via Coverall).