How Clean Is Your Fitness Equipment?

The ever-growing awareness of the significance of exercise has revolutionized today’s world. While people choose different places, means, and equipment to exercise, one thing remains standard, the need to keep fitness equipment squeaky clean. A survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services revealed that more than 64.5% of the American population is regarded to be active to a healthy level and own and/or use fitness equipment of one kind or another (1). These statistics shed further light on the perpetual need to encourage awareness and implementation of hygiene of fitness equipment.





Both home and gym based equipment is subject to exposure to a myriad of different types of pathogens. The fact that fitness equipment is often shared by several people and it is mostly kept in warm and humid temperatures, doubles the chances of it serving as a breeding ground for countless types of bacteria and viruses (2). Studies reveal that an exercise bike, on average, has 39 times more bacteria than a reusable plastic lunch tray! (3) Free weights, which most of you probably use whenever you hit the gym, have about 362 times more bacteria than a public toilet! (3) Feel like already rushing to your fitness equipment with disinfectant wipes after hearing these facts and figures? Well, there’s more. A study conducted in 2018 showed that gymnasium equipment does not only serve as a potential reservoir for Staphylococcus aureus, a type of bacteria known for causing innumerable and often antibiotic resistant skin and soft tissue infections, but can also be the means of transmitting this pathogen from one human to another (4). Moreover, fitness equipment has been linked to spreading several skin ailments including but not limited to jock itch, ringworm infections and athlete’s foot (5).



Having established the prevalence of several pathogens in fitness equipment, and their potential role in the transmission of disease, it is important to consider that fitness equipment, when unhygienic is not only a breeding ground for pathogens but is also aesthetically displeasing. After a person exercises, variable amounts of dust, sweat, and oil are left on the exercising equipment, which in the long term contribute to rusting and wear and tear of gym equipment (6). In this aspect, our brand’s CEO, Anthony Miklaszewski has rightly said, "One of the biggest consequences of dirty, un-sanitized equipment is unhappy and more so unhealthy members."

It is important to highlight that this emerging problem can be halted if the right measures are taken. The most accessible means at the level of an individual is frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers (7). It is also recommended that all fitness equipment surfaces should be cleaned before and after use with disinfectants (7). Various cleaning products are chosen by gym/equipment owners, depending on budgets and requirements, though it is highly recommended that disinfectant cleaning wipes or sprays approved by U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) be chosen that can eradicate growing bacteria and viruses (8). Alcohol-free cleaning solutions are often preferred due to their minimum impact of fitness equipment material. Miklaszewski also added “it is ever so important to have a “Bio-Security Plan”. No business should be without one. It will protect you and especially your clients. Without our clients, your gym or martial arts studio would not exist.”


An innovative and comparatively newer approach in the arena of disinfection is the use of Electro Static Sprayer (ESS) which allows atomization of liquid particles and deposits them onto target objects, with remarkable uniformity allowing little or no overspill (9). Electro Static Sprayer technology has successfully been employed in painting walls and surfaces as well as in dispelling insecticides and pesticides for crops with very encouraging results (10). A novel approach is this aspect, is the use of electrostatic spray for propelling disinfectants. Several studies have been conducted to compare electro static sprays with conventional sprays and offer very promising results. Electro static spraying of commercial antimicrobials and disinfectants when compared to conventional spraying, achieves significant additional reductions in eradicating various bacteria including L. monocytogenes, C. jejuni and Salmonella (11). In addition to improved disinfection achieved with electrostatic spraying, simple cost analysis and comparison of ESS with conventional sprays reveals that regardless of the type and quality of disinfectant used, the cost of using an electro static sprayer is 20 to 40% lower than that of a conventional sprayer (11).



It is hard to keep surfaces healthy when they are continually used. There are some advanced EPA registered disinfectants are able to keep services clean and healthy for up to 90 days. This can be a game changer for Gyms and martial art studios. A residual style disinfectant that can help fight germs on wrestling mats, Yoga mats, dojos, free weights and much more.

Consequently, for disinfecting fitness equipment where the concerns for contaminating pathogens are high and oftentimes large areas need to be disinfected, electrostatic spraying of disinfectants can serve to be the much sought after answer. Given the requirements of large quantities and multiple uses of disinfectants, electro static sprays can be considered not only an effective but also a very economical approach to enhancing the safety and hygiene of fitness equipment and ensuring every user gets a clean gear to exercise every single time!




References:

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC. (2008). Prevalence of self-reported physically active adults--United States, 2007. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report, 57(48), 1297.

2. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/12/02/gym-equipment-wipe-down/19799387/

3. https://www.bustle.com/p/the-amount-of-bacteria-on-gym-equipment-will-make-sure-you-never-forget-to-wipe-down-the-elliptical-again-56460

4. Maurice Bilung, L., Tahar, A. S., Kira, R., Rozali, M., Ariffah, A., & Apun, K. (2018). High Occurrence of Staphylococcus aureus Isolated from Fitness Equipment from Selected Gymnasiums. Journal of environmental and public health, 2018.

5. Johnson, T. D. (2011). Stay healthy and infection-free at the gym.

6. Baldwin, K. G. (1956). Take Care of Your Athletic Equipment. Journal of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, 27(9), 10-58.

7. Fadare, O. S., & Durojaye, O. B. (2018). Antibiotic Susceptibility Profile of Bacteria Isolated from Fitness Machines in Selected Fitness Centers at Akure and Elizade University in Ondo State Nigeria. Microbiology Research Journal International, 1-9.

8. Meade, T. (2015). Disinfect the Rec: Creating and Implementing a Disinfection Campaign at Gyms Using the Theory of Planned Behavior. Recreational Sports Journal, 39(2), 157-169.

9. Li, Y., Xue, X. L., & Wang, D. K. (2013, January). Control System and Mechanism Design of the Self-Propelled Electrostatic Sprayer. In 2013 Fifth International Conference on Measuring Technology and Mechatronics Automation(pp. 393-396). IEEE.

10.Narang Kumar, M., Mishra, A., Kumar, V., Singh Thakur, S., & Singh, M. (2015). Comparative Evaluation of Spraying Technology in Cotton Belt of Punjab (India).

Jiang, W., Etienne, X., Li, K., & Shen, C. (2018). Comparison of the Efficacy of Electrostatic versus Conventional Sprayer with Commercial Antimicrobials To Inactivate Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter jejuni for Eggs and Economic Feasibility Analysis. Journal of food protection, 81(11), 1864-

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