Yuck! Your Gym Equipment Likely Has More Bacteria on It Than a Toilet Seat

Updated: Apr. 13, 2021

You might want to bring hand sanitizer to your next workout.

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People rarely feel their cleanest after a workout, but your own sweat might be the least of your issues. Your gym equipment could also be full of bacteria.

Fitness equipment review site FitRated.com got bacteria samples from 27 pieces of equipment from three large gym chains. The results will make you want to take a long shower.

Free weights have an average of more than 1.1 million colony-forming units per square inch, according to FitRated.com. In comparison, the National Sanitation Foundation says you’d find 172 CFU per square inch on a home toilet seat. (FitRated.com used numbers from elementary school toilets, which are even germier than your family’s.) But treadmills and stationary bikes were even worse offenders, with about 7,752 times more bacteria than a home toilet seat. That’s even more than these objects with more bacteria than a toilet. Yikes!

Touching a surface with bacteria won’t necessarily make you sick. Some bacteria aren’t harmful, and others won’t do any harm in small amounts. But the fact that 70 percent of bacteria from the tested equipment FitRated.com tested were potentially harmful isn’t very comforting.

If you tend to skip wiping down your workout machine, take that extra 30 seconds before and after you use the equipment. Even if you’re not a germaphobe, you’ll be doing the rest of us a favor.

And since you can’t control what everyone else does, avoid getting sick by waiting to wipe your sweaty brow until you’ve washed your hands. “Your best defense is to be aware of washing your hands post workout and before eating or touching your face,” Kelly Reynolds, microbiologist and associate professor at the Zuckerman College of Public Health in Arizona, tells HuffPost. Oh, and don’t you dare rewear your sweaty clothes without doing laundry.