Germs at the Gym: 7 Tips to Keep the Bugs Away

It’s the busiest, hustle-bustle time of the year and millions of people are traveling here and there and everywhere! According to Dr. Mimi Secor, there are many kinds of bacteria and viruses commonly found at fitness facilities. She offers some quick tips on how people can stay healthy during their workouts.

The Gym is One of the Dirtiest Places You Will Visit 

According to FitRated (a site that reviews fitness equipment), 27 different pieces of equipment in the gym were swabbed and the results were shocking:

  • Free weights have 362 times more bacteria than a toilet seat (when was the last time you’ve seen anyone wash down the barbells?).
  • The treadmill has 74 times more bacteria than an average washroom faucet.
  • 50% of the bacteria can cause pneumonia, septicemia, and skin infections.
  • 30% of the bacteria was found to be largely resistant to antibiotics!

The Most Common Gym Germs:

  • Plantar warts (Non-cancerous HPV).
  • Klebsiella: (UTIs, pneumonia) spread via shared surfaces, workout mats, weights, water fountains, locker rooms.
  • E.coli: (found in intestines and stool/poop) can cause abdominal cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, pneumonia. Can get from contaminated gym surfaces from improper/inadequate/lack of handwashing.
  • Staphlococcus Aureus: Commonly causes skin infections. Transmitted by shared towel, razor, exercise equipment, weight grips, skin to skin contact.
  • Candida: is a fungus or yeast infection associated with jock itch in men, vaginal infections in women and skin infections in men/women. It thrives in warm, moist areas, including locker rooms, saunas, swimming pools and showers.
  • Streptococcal Bacteria: Causes throat and respiratory infections. It is very contagious, spread person to person, airborne droplets, surfaces like doorknobs, exercise equipment, drinking bottles, locker rooms.
  • Influenza: A virus that causes respiratory infections. Is spread through the air from others sneezing or coughing, or via your hands then touching mouth, nose, or eyes.

General Guidelines to Practice: 7 Tips

  1. Wash your hands before and after your workout (and before you touch your face or nose).
  2. Spray and wipe down machines before and after using them.
  3. Place a towel on the bench before you sit down.
  4. Wear flip-flops in the shower/bathroom.
  5. Wear lifting gloves and wash them regularly (at least weekly).
  6. Change out of sweaty gym clothes immediately after your workout.
  7. Avoid touching your face while working out.

Dr. Mimi Secor is a popular National Speaker and Consultant, educating advanced practice clinicians and consumers around the country and the world. She is the author of the book, Debut a New You: Transforming Your Life at Any Age.

Author Profile

The Editorial Team at Lake Oconee Health is made up of skilled health and wellness writers and experts, led by Daniel Casciato who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We aim to provide our readers with valuable insights and guidance to help them lead healthier and happier lives.