Germs at the Gym?: Fitness & OCD

Gym equipment

Do you ever worry, when you’re at the gym, about bacteria left on the equipment by other members? If you do, it probably bothers you when someone just walks away from a weight machine without wiping it. Right?

A soon-to-be-published study from the University of Florida School of Medicine might help you breathe a little more easily. The researchers went to local gyms and obtained samples from all types of equipment, including mats, weights, benches, and various machines, both before and after they were cleaned. Then they took them back to the laboratory to be examined, expressly looking for drug-resistant and drug-sensitive strains of the Staphylococcus bacteria, MRSA and MSSA. They found none.

According to the lead investigator of the study, even though it remains viable for a long time, MRSA is not as likely to be transmitted to you from a surface as it is from another person. But she warns of the limitations of this study; that is, they did not test other surfaces, such as lockers, doorknobs, and clothing or towels at the gyms—and these may be more likely to be contaminated. So, I don’t know about you, but I’m still going to use sufficient amounts of the hand sanitizer before I leave the gym.


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