The Amount of Bacteria at Your Gym Will Make You Want a Hand Sanitizer Shower

how dirty is gym equipment

The anti-bacterial wipes at the gym aren't just for show. They exist because the gym is disgusting. Worse yet, no one is doing a good job cleaning off the equipment. At least, that's what Fit Rated found when they hired indoor air quality laboratory EmLab P&K to test 27 different pieces of exercise equipment at three separate gyms. 

The results are not inspiring. The study found 74 times more bacteria on a treadmill than on a public bathroom water faucet and 362 times more bacteria on free weights than on a toilet seat. Think about that. Really think about that. Toilets are for poop.

how dirty is gym equipment
Fit Rated

According to the study, 70 percent of bacteria found on the equipment "are potentially harmful to humans." Additionally, gram-positive cocci, "a common cause of skin infections and other illnesses," was found on bikes, treadmills, and free weights, the three type of equipment the study looked at.

It's gross and interesting, but the sample size is very small. You can take away that bacteria is all over the gym, but it's likely there would be a lot of variance in a wide-ranging study. Your gym may be incredibly clean and the average gym may be a little cleaner than this study found. It could also be much, much worse. (It's also worth noting that EmLab P&K conducted the testing, but a company that sells home gym equipment paid for the study.)

Nonetheless, gym equipment is Bad Santa dirty and it's not entirely surprising given the horrors you've probably witnessed at your own gym. Kelly Reynolds, a microbiologist and associate professor at the Zuckerman College of Public Health in Arizona, told the Huffington Post you should wipe down equipment before and after you use it. However, more important is what comes after the workout.

“Your best defense is to be aware of washing your hands post workout and before eating or touching your face,” she said. Take note, because using free weights before eating is akin to dipping your nachos in toilet water.

h/t Huffington Post

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Dustin Nelson is a News Writer with Thrillist. He holds a Guinness World Record but has never met the fingernail lady. Follow him @dlukenelson.