Free weights in gyms typically harbour more than 300 times the amount of bacteria as the average toilet seat, according to a study.
Exercise bikes in fitness centres are 39 times more ‘germy’ than a school canteen tray. And treadmills are claimed to harbour the highest bacteria levels in gyms with 74 times more germs than the taps of a public lavatory.
Fitness equipment reviewer FitRated took bacteria samples from weights, treadmills and exercise bikes at three gyms for the study. The tests were carried out on a total of 27 pieces of equipment and revealed that each item harboured more than a million germs per square inch.
“Gym equipment is generally used by a community of people,” said Chelsea Freeburn from the FitRated creative team. “If not wiped down thoroughly before and after use, bacterial growth can occur.”
Free weights, treadmills and exercise bikes were all found to harbour gram-positive cocci – a bacteria commonly linked with skin infections and other illnesses. All three types of equipment also yielded gram-negative rods which can resist antibiotics and cause infections.
And the researchers found Bacillus – which can cause of ear, eye and respiratory infections – present on the exercise bikes and free weights tested.
More than 70 per cent of the bacteria found in the study were potentially harmful to humans. FitRated admits that cross-contamination in the gym is inevitable, but suggests that gym-goers should invest in their own exercise equipment at home if they want to avoid coming into contact with other people’s germs in the gym.