Could your gym be making you ill? We take a closer look.

We’re told that our regular mat is one of the dirtiest items you’ll find at your local gym. Dr. Robert Lahita, a professor of medicine at Rutgers School of Medicine, recently stated that “The yoga mat is a very fertile source for infection, mainly because people sweat on them and they rarely are cleaned.” and Elle did their own bacterial test on a gym mat, finding that some bacteria could cause illness.

Make sense as the mats are used multiple times during the day and almost never get wiped down or cleaned. Have you seen gym staff cleaning their mats? We haven’t.

There’s one easy way around this: bring your own mat. That way, you can take it home, wipe it down, then simply bring it to the gym next time you’re planning on working out or attending a yoga class.

It’s the gym equipment which could potentially be some of the dirtiest items you could pick up during the day. People pass through your gym with a cold, after recovering from illness and other infections and most of the kit doesn’t get cleaned between use.

Always make sure you spray and clean your cardio equipment before the next user

A recent claim is that some of the cardio equipment should be avoided. Fitness Magazine compiled a list of the most problematic areas at your local gym and what you can do to avoid picking up something unwanted. This includes spraying down equipment before and after use (but who does this?) and carrying anti-bacterial gel which you can rub on your hands between sets. Of course, at a very minimum, you should always thoroughly wash your hands at the end of every session.

Now they’ve now gone one step further and decided that your gym kit – you know, the stylish kit that people spend ages choosing and manufacturers design so it’s as good outside the gym as it is inside – should not be worn outside the gym as it can cause skin infections such as eczema and even aggravate acne.

Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman for charity the British Skin Foundation told the Telegraph: “Gym wear should be kept for the gym and it is a good idea to get into the habit of showering immediately after exercise to minimise the risk of developing skin problems.”

The claim is that eczema and other skin conditions are accelerated by tight-fitting, sweaty gym kit which hugs the body, traps heat and body sweat. The rise in the use of compression tops under your regular gym kit isn’t likely to help either.

Dr Mahto concludes that “It’s probably not the end of the world if you leave your gym clothes on that little bit longer than you intended, but if you are struggling with irritation and breakouts then perhaps a change of habits is in order.”

Our advice? It’s very unlikely you’ll ever pick up anything worrying from a gym session or a swim at your local pool. Basic hygiene is all you’ll need. Always wash your hands after any session and bring a change of clothes with you after a workout. And make sure you spray and wipe your cardio equipment after a session so it’s clean for the next user.


About Author

The co-founder of Short Motivation, Chris originates from a technology background, initially developing software and then migrating to the international magazine industry for the last 15 years. The idea for Short Motivation came from travelling through 2011 and eventually became reality six years later, in 2017.