WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Gym Germs Worse Than Expected

May 9, 2016

Exercise equipment may be designed to keep you healthy, but it actually poses its own potential health risk.

Public gyms are a breeding ground for bacteria. That is the finding from Fit Rated, a website that reviews exercise equipment.

The site examined gym cleanliness and found that exercise bikes have 39 times the bacteria of a cafeteria tray. A treadmill has 74 times the bacteria of a public bathroom faucet.

But, that’s nothing compared to free weights. They have 362 times the bacteria of a toilet seat. That's largely because free weights are often overlooked as an item that needs to be wiped down.

Jesse Geer, building supervisor at Western Illinois University's recreation center, says many public gyms are aware of this problem.

“Each person has a bucket at their station with soap in it. And they just go around and they clean it out and then we clean the buckets and change them up like every so often,” said Geer.

He says the best way to avoid germs at the gym is to wipe down exercise machines before and after use with the sanitary wipes the recreation center provides.