- Equipment review site Fitrated collected samples from 27 pieces of gym equipment from three different gyms.
- Samples from a treadmill, exercise bike, and free weights were taken – and it turns out they are all teeming with germs.
- Over 70% of the bacteria found was harmful and known to cause a combination of skin infections and illnesses.
- Avoiding going barefoot, touching your face, and always immediately changing out of gym clothes can help to protect you.
If you’ve ever wondered about the hygiene standards of the equipment at your gym, you could be in for a nasty surprise.
Fitness equipment review website Fitrated gathered bacteria samples from 27 different pieces of equipment – three treadmills, three exercise bikes, and three free weights – at three different gyms which were part of major chains.
EmLab P&K then tested the samples to determine bacteria levels based on colony-forming units (CFU) – the number of viable bacteria cells – and found there were more than one million germs per square inch on each piece of equipment.
All three pieces of equipment tested positive for gram-positive cocci (a common cause of skin infections and other illnesses); gram-negative rods (which can prompt many types of infections and sometimes resist antibiotics), and gram-positive rods (which can – but don’t often – cause various types of infections).
The exercise bikes and free weight samples also turned up Bacillus – a potential cause of conditions such as ear, eye, and respiratory infections.
The least hygienic pieces of equipment
The treadmill and exercise bike came out worst overall in terms of the CFU count, although free weights weren’t too far behind them.
The treadmill – 1,333,432 CFU.
On treadmills, the study found an average of 74 times more bacteria than a tap in a public toilet.
Exercise bike – 1,333,418 CFU.
The average exercise bike harboured 39 times more bacteria than a cafeteria tray.
Free weights – 1,158,381 CFU.
Typical free weights had 362 times more germs than a toilet seat.
If you’re keen to protect yourself from these bacteria, Fitrated suggests you disinfect machines both before and after use, avoid walking around barefoot or touching your face, always wash your hands, and always change out of your gym clothes straight after a workout.