Free weights flush with germs: What Types Of Bacteria Are Floating Around Gyms? Are They Worse Than Public Toilets?

Free Weights Flush With Germs: What Types Of Bacteria Are Floating Around Gyms? Are They Worse Than Public Toilets?

Going to the gym to get healthy and change your lifestyle is a difficult step to take, yet one that rewards you through the rest of your life. It is hard to imagine that a place that advertises itself as a way to get healthy can actually harbor more dangerous bacteria than found on public toilets.

Researchers from collected samples from 27 different pieces of equipment that are commonly found in gyms around the world. When they got to analyzing the data, they discovered that every piece of equipment they tested was home to over one million types of bacteria per square inch. Cristina Lachowyn, a FitRated representative, commented as to why the study was conducted.

“We decided to do this kind of study to make people aware of their habits, and make you work out a lot cleaner and safer. The last thing you need is to get sick when you’re trying to get fit.”

The piece of equipment that has the most germs was found to be free weights. The researchers found that free weights had 362 times more bacteria than what is found on public toilet seats.

“Every time you pick up a weight or grab an exercise bike handle, you could be putting yourself at risk for an illness or infection.”

Just How Bad Is The Bacteria That Is Found In The Gym?

Over 70 percent of the bacteria that was found are bacteria that is considered to be harmful to humans. One type that was found was gram-positive cocci. There are three main types of gram-positive cocci that are harmful to humans.

Staphylococcus aureus: S. aureus is one of the most common types of infections. Usually, S. aureus is a problem in the hospital setting where it can impact over 500,000 patients per year. This type of bacteria is known to cause cellulitis, pneumonia, meningitis, endocarditis, and other conditions that can cause severe problems.

Staphylococcus epidermidis: S. epidermidis is another common type of gram-positive cocci normally found in hospitals. It has the ability to grow into a film on plastics which make catheters a great breeding ground. Most of the time, S. epidermidis is resistant to the most common antibiotics. Due to its commonality with S. aureus, S. epidermidis can cause many of the same medical problems.

Staphylococcus saprophyticus: Up to 25 percent of the population carry S. saprophyticus in the anal area, genitals, nose, and mouth. This type of germ finds its way into a person’s system by entering through cuts. Once inside, S. sapropyticus can lead to skin infections that run the range from common boils to necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease).

The Staphylococcus germs find it fairly easy to live outside of the body. They can live and stay infectious for long periods of time on hard surfaces. The gym is full of hard surfaces.

In regard to stationary devices, the data from the gym’s showed that stationary bikes are home to 39 times more bacteria than a reusable cafeteria tray and treadmills contained 74 times more bacteria than what you would expect to find on faucets in public restrooms. The type of germ found on the stationary equipment is the Bacillus type of bacteria. The Bacillus type of bacteria is known to cause infections in different parts of a person’s head. Eye infections, ear infections, and respiratory infections are the most common type. It should also be stated that Bacillus is the bacteria found in anthrax.

Luckily, it is very easy to keep yourself safe from infection while at the gym. Disinfecting machines, equipment, and lockers before you touch them is the most effective way to kill the germs on the equipment. Most gyms have some type of disinfectant readily available for all patrons to use freely.

Were you aware of just how flush with germs that gyms are?

[Image Via AP Photo/Sang Tan]