Gyms ‘a hotbed for germs’

August 28th, 2015 Category: Local Authority & Housing

Gyms can be hotbeds for bacteria and other nasties if they are not cleaned properly, and a new study has served to throw this issue in the spotlight.

A report published by Initial Washroom Hygiene in the UK revealed that the majority (60 per cent) of Britons' gym bags carry high levels of bacterial contamination.

The research found that over a third (35 per cent) of the bags tested were infested with coliform bacteria, which is linked to serious diseases.

These bacteria are typical indicators of poor hygiene and, outside the body, are predominantly found in faecal matter.

Swab tests showed that bags belonging to women were just as likely to have high levels of bacteria as those belonging to males (64 per cent vs. 61 per cent respectively).

Commenting on the findings, Dr Peter Barratt, technical manager at Initial Washroom Hygiene, said: “Gym bags are portable; we take them with us into our homes, place of work, in our cars and on public transport. 

"If they become contaminated, their potential for accumulating and transferring bacteria and virus particles is significant. Our study demonstrates how relevant the provision of easily accessible hand washing facilities and hand sanitisers is in gyms, to help prevent cross contamination between members."

Furthermore, the report found that bags made of leather were found to hold more bacteria than those made of canvas or nylon.

This is because the spongy surface texture of leather provides the perfect conditions for bacteria to live and grow.

There was also significant risk of passing on germs due to improper hand washing, with medical experts revealing that 80 per cent of all infections are passed on by our hands.

This is especially true in busy gym environments, which have multiple touch points and humid environments.

Mr Barratt added: "It’s also down to individuals to take responsibility for their own hand hygiene by following correct hand washing guidelines: between 20 and 30 seconds is the recommended time for thorough hand washing. 

"This is one of the tips we give school children because if we can make hand washing and sanitising a habit at an early age, we’ll all be a little better off.  As well as keeping yourself fit in the gym, it’s important to remember to stay healthy at the same time.”

Mr Barratt also advised gym users to wipe their machines down and use hand sanitisers before and after a workout.

"The most effective hand sanitisers are not alcohol-based. These will form a gentle but long-lasting barrier to microbes across hands, inactivating germs for hours after use and protecting against a wide range of bacteria and viruses, including Norovirus.”
Gym managers can also cut back on the risk of germs by using a reputable cleaning company such as Nviro that will clean and sanitise every area of a gym thoroughly and efficiently.