Keeping Your Gym & Fitness Center Free from Pathogens

It’s no secret gyms, fitness centers, and locker rooms are abundant in germs. Disinfecting equipment and practicing good gym hygiene will help you stay healthy.

Pathogens in Fitness Centers & Locker Rooms

Many people choose to exercise to improve or maintain their health. The abundance of pathogens in gyms can do just the opposite and lead to infection or illness. Research has found that bacteria leading to potential skin infections and illnesses were on 10% to 30% of gym surfaces. The places proved to be the dirtiest in the gym include free weights, machines, exercise balls, pools, showers, and your own gym bag.

Executive director of the Global Biorisk Advisory Council Patty Olinger says, “We can see a variety of common germs on gym surfaces, which include everything from flu, strep, and staph, to COVID and RSV”. These kinds of pathogens thrive in areas that are warm and moist such as the gym and can easily spread by contact and through the air from one gym goer to the next. A study observed gym equipment such as free weights, exercise bikes, and treadmills had more than 1 million colony-forming units in every square inch”. That’s an abundant number of germs surrounding you during your daily workout.  

Pathogens such as Staphylococcus along with fungi and viruses are commonly found in most fitness centers and locker rooms. Skin infections include infections such as plantar warts, impetigo, ringworm, and staph infections. Staph is common in gyms and can dwell on the surfaces of equipment and changing rooms. Fungi are found commonly on gym bathrooms, pools, changing rooms, mats, and the floor.

Disinfecting Against Pathogens

To prevent spreading germs and catching them while working out, it is important to disinfect equipment with an effective disinfectant to keep the germ count on equipment as low as possible. Board-certified family practice doctor at Franciscan Physician Network Plainfield Family Medicine Joseph Richardville, MD says, “the gym, like any other facility that has a lot of people coming to, can be a place that harbors and spreads germs. This includes viruses, bacteria, and even fungi”. Richardville recommends thoroughly sanitizing equipment such as machines and weights before and after using them. Keeping a bottle of gentle but effective disinfectant with you while exercising is an easy way to make disinfecting a habit. 

To avoid skin infections such as staph it is important to avoid touching your face after touching surfaces, cover all open wounds before exercising, and to shower and wash your gym clothes when you’re done exercising. To avoid catching dermatophytes such as athletes’ foot, jock itch, and ringworm wear moisture-wicking clothes, avoid walking around barefoot, wear shower shoes in the locker room and showers, and make sure to rotate sneakers frequently. 

When trying to protect yourself and others from pathogens, never assume everyone else is trying to protect you as well. Studies show that 38.4% of gym-users reported not wiping down equipment in the afternoon, and 21.2% did not do so in the evening. Washing your hands often, disinfecting equipment before and after use, and not going to the gym when you’re sick are good ways to keep yourself and others safe.

Pathogens in Home Gyms

Even if you work out at home it is important to disinfect your workout equipment. Contagious viruses such as influenza, SARS-CoV-2, and RSV can get picked up from places when you’re in public and get brought back home. These pathogens can remain on surfaces for days to even weeks. When these pathogens are brought back to your home, they can get brought to your exercise gear which gets moist with sweat, making it the perfect environment for them to thrive.

Surfaces that are harder to clean, such as yoga mats, medicine balls, and rubber flooring, harbor the most bacteria and should be wiped down with disinfectant. Dirty equipment can also cause breakouts such as acne which are commonly found on your chest, back, and shoulders from a dirty workout bench or exercise mat. A study found that “exercise bikes boast 39 times more bacteria than a cafeteria tray, while free weights have 362 times more bacteria than a toilet seat”. Just like if you’re in a public gym make sure to disinfect your home equipment before and after use to prevent the spread of germs.

Stay Protected with Paerosol

Paerosol is a safe and non-irritating disinfecting platform that protects against viruses, bacteria, mold spores, and fungi, keeping colds, flus, and other illnesses down. Paerosol’s disinfectant spray is perfect for use in locker rooms, fitness centers, public gyms, and home gyms and has been tested on government campuses including locker rooms and training facilities.

Contact the team at Paerosol today to learn more.