What About Germs in the Gym?

Going to ‘the club’ and sweating over the machines is supposed to be work – as in the first four letters of w-o-r-k-out. So it is likely that you and/or the person(s) before you have been sweating on those exercise machines. There is a bitter irony to the fact that you are working out to maintain your good health, so you shouldn’t be risking it in the bargain.

Gripping the handrails on the treadmill or the handlebars on the stationary bike is very natural. Ditto, handling the free weights in a strength-building session.

It is likely that you will rub a sweaty fist over your eyes or scratch some place.

In view of these simple facts you might find it interesting that the superbug methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (better known as MRSA), which can survive on surfaces as long as 30 days, has been found on health club machines in studies across the country.

According to WebMD “Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body. It’s tougher to treat than most strains of staphylococcus aureus — or staph — because it’s resistant to some commonly used antibiotics.

“The symptoms of MRSA depend on where you’re infected. Most often, it causes mild infections on the skin, like sores or boils. But it can also cause more serious skin infections or infect surgical wounds, the bloodstream, the lungs, or the urinary tract.

“Though most MRSA infections aren’t serious, some can be life-threatening. Many public health experts are alarmed by the spread of tough strains of MRSA. Because it’s hard to treat, MRSA is sometimes called a ‘super bug.'”

I am not a health club member, but there is one in the highrise in which I live. We furnish paper towels and antiseptic sprays to wipe off the machines before you start and after you finish. It might be uncool to be spraying machines in a public health club, but I would carry some antiseptic handy wipes or something like that. Better safe than sorry.

As long as you are willing to sweat over a machine, the least you can do is try to leave the health club with no more germs than you came in with.

Eat less; move more; live longer. Words to live by.


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