Could going to the gym put you at risk of coronavirus?

In these scary, uncertain times we’re all doing what we can to stay clean and healthy.

Yes, we’re washing our hands, we’re practically bathing in hand sanitiser, we’ve stopped shaking hands unnecessarily. But another important factor in keeping healthy and warding off illness is exercise.

When your body is fit, strong and healthy, you’re less likely to pick up nasty bugs. But here’s the problem – is your gym teaming with germs?

Think about it. When it comes to intimate communal sharing spaces, gyms have got to be high on that list. Think about how many sweaty hands have touched those dumbbells. How many naked bodies were in the shower before you. How many people rolled around on that stretching mat before you got there?

Studies also show that we can be pretty gross with our gym habits.

A survey, conducted by Tap Warehouse, found that 23% of gym-goers wait longer than an hour to shower post-gym – which puts you at risk of infection.

On top of that, 13% use the same cloth to wipe their face and the gym equipment. Grim.

Maybe most worryingly, 20% of Brits confess to ‘never’ washing their hands at the gym so, whatever they have come in to contact with since last washing their hands, will no doubt be on the gym equipment.

How clean are we in the gym?

  • 20% never wash their hands in the gym
  • 81% rarely or never wipe down the gym equipment
  • 46% have never sanitised the gym equipment
  • 10% never wash their gym clothes
  • 13% use the same cloth to wipe their face and the gym equipment

According to Dr Abigail Short from, ‘bacteria can happily live on equipment for three days’ but despite this, 81% of Brits rarely or never wipe down the gym equipment and 46% of Brits have never sanitised the gym equipment.

None of this makes for positive reading if you’re a big fan of the gym.

According to the survey, 10% of Brits never wash their gym clothes and Dr Short has confirmed that ‘gym clothes can harbour lots of bacteria due to sweat and because of the interaction between gym apparatus and public changing rooms. Touching fitness machines, wiping your sweaty hand on your t-shirt or sharing a barbell can transfer germs.’

How to be more hygeinic in the gym

Of course, there are measures you can take to make sure you’re being as clean as possible in the gym and minimise your own risk.

  • First of all, wash your hands before and immediately after your workout.
  • Make sure you wipe down your equipment when you’re done.
  • Don’t touch your face, nose or mouth during your workout if you can help it, and try to immediately shower when you’re finished.
  • Store your gym kit in a separate bag to the rest of your stuff, and wash it on a high heat as soon as you’re home.

But there are no guarantees that you will be completely safe from germs, so if you are worried, older, immunosuppressed or have pre-existing health conditions, it might be a good idea to avoid the gym – and any communal spaces with unavoidable contact – until this pandemic blows over.

If you want to keep up with your workout goals but avoid the germs at the gym, why not head to the park for a HIIT session, or go for a run instead.

Or there are plenty of apps and online tutorials for effective, full-body workouts you can do from your living room.

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