The 6 Filthiest Pieces Of Gym Equipment Will Remind You To Wipe Down Every Machine You Use From Now On
Good news, everyone. The next time your gym buddy asks why you bailed on your last treadmill date, you have a legitimate excuse: The treadmill is disgusting. No, really. A recent study gathered information to determine the filthiest pieces of gym equipment, and the results are enough to scare everyone away from the elliptical for the foreseeable future.
The study was conducted by FitRated, an equipment reviews site, and it collected bacteria samples from 27 different kinds of gym equipment at three different national chain locations. Not only did they find plenty of bacteria that can cause skin infections, but they even found some that are resistant to antibiotics — which is just, you know, mildly terrifying. The two scariest kinds of bacteria found are gram-positive cocci (the most common cause of skin infections, and also a cause of pneumonia and septicemia) and gram-negative rods (most of which are harmful to humans and may not respond to antibiotics).
I'm a regular visitor of the best weightlifting gym in Las Vegas, and I'll admit that I don't wipe down my barbell before and after use. I know I should, though, and after reading up on this study, it's clearly a new habit I need to get into. What other pieces of equipment should you be careful with? Here's what FitRated's study — and others — have found.
1. Free Weights Are, By Far, The Nastiest
Next time you head over to the free weights for three sets of 12 dumbbell curls, remember that those 20-pounders have 362 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. In other words, you'd be safer curling said toilet seat. Not only were the gram-positive cocci, and gram-positive and gram-negative rods found, but Bacilius also turned up, which can cause ear, eye, and respiratory infections. All together, now: Ew.
2. Taking The Exercise Bike To Germ Town
Still horrifying, albeit a little less so than the case of the free weights, is the amount of bacteria found on the exercise bike — 39 times more than that found on a plastic cafeteria tray. At least we're not talking about something people sit on. And while a bike is far likelier to get wiped down than equipment like free weights, one study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found that 63 percent of machines that are disinfected still carry traces of rhinovirus, the cause of the common cold. To make matters worse, staph, fungi, and yeast have been found on gym bike seats. Does anyone have something I can throw up in?
3. The Treadmill: The Only Place You're Running To Is A Giant Pile Of Bacteria
How much bacteria, you ask? 74 times more than a water faucet, says FitRated. With 1,333,432 colony-forming units per square inch, the typical gym treadmill is carrying gram-positive cocci, gram-negative rods, and gram-positive rods. Next time you feel like getting a couple miles in, do laps around the building.
4. Yoga Mats: Nama-Stay Off Of Them
Seriously, people, wipe them down before and after. Better yet, bring your own mat that only you touch. These mats can carry microbes that cause skin infections, athlete's foot (sexy), colds, the flu, and hepatitis A. They can also have Staphylococcus aureus, which commonly causes staph infections. This bacteria can possibly be deadly, and is actually the leading cause of fatal hospital-acquired infections, due to its resistance to antibiotics.
5. Swimming In A Pool Of Lies
The stench of chlorine might be frying you nose hairs, but don't be fooled: Fecal matter in the water (yup) is busy spreading a bug called cryptosporidium, which causes approximately 62 percent of pool-related outbreaks of diarrhea. Additionally, pseudomonas can cause eye and ear infections. Here's another interesting tip: Apparently, chlorine gives off that strong scent when it's reacting with microorganisms. The stronger the smell, the dirtier the water.
6. Whatever You Do, Don't Inhale
One study found that the dirtiest part of the gym isn't any of the equipment — it's the air you're breathing. Dust was unsurprisingly the most common pollutant in the air, but formaldehyde and carbon dioxide levels were also alarmingly high. The level of pollutants in the air was so high, that none of the safety standards for indoor air quality were met. According to the researchers, a big reason behind this is because when we're working out, we're taking in more air and it comes out of our mouths, missing the natural filtration that our noses provide. What's more, the pollutants penetrate deeper into your lungs than if you were in a resting state.
None of this is meant to scare you into not going to the gym. Continue on with your healthy lifestyle! Remember that everywhere we go, we're exposed to both good and bad bacteria. Next time you hit up the gym, sanitize whatever you touch before and after. Do it for yourself, and for everyone else around you.