Dirty Gyms - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Dirty Gyms

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     In tonight's Healthier Me, the quest for good health can actually make you sick; the gym is like a petri dish into which every member is shedding bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

     To find out just how extensive this problem might be, CNN reporter Kim Brunhuber asked University of Ottawa microbiology investigator Jason Tetro to be his workout partner for the day. 

     Here's what they found out:

     Sweat prints are great for spreading bacteria and fungi, and that's just the beginning; you can also pick up a cold, flu, or even dangerous skin infections. "You have fecal coliform -- like e-coli," Tetro says, "and the other thing you may be picking up are warts, the papilloma virus, or the fungus that causes athlete's foot."

     Protect yourself! Before you use any equipment, make sure to wipe it down, and don't touch your face without washing your hands first. It's not just other people you have to worry about, either; you can actually make yourself sick with your own dirty gear.

     We asked Jason to test a used bag, bottle, and mat. The gym bag was relatively clean, but the water bottle, contained bacteria from backwash that doubled every twenty minutes -- within 24 hours, it would grow to the extent that it could make you sick, so be sure to thoroughly wash out your water bottle with hot water and soap after each use.

     This also goes for the dirtiest object in our tests: the mat. This turned out to be completely covered in bacteria, including fecal coliform; share a mat, and you could end up sharing a disease.

     Next, when it's time to hit the showers, Brunhuber says, "it's amazing how often I see people in here with bare feet," -- it's a good way of picking up a wart or athlete's foot.

     The lesson here? When you're in the gym, you're exposing not just yourself, but also everything you're wearing, everything you take with you, and everyone around you to the many germs which thrive in the hot and heavy environment.

     That's good reason for caution -- but no reason to give up your resolution. Keep our health tips in mind, and remember to have proper gym etiquette as well -- that means wiping off the machine after you use it and not monopolizing the equipment, especially when the gym is busy.

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