Nothing ruins your workout more than a stranger’s pool of sweat drowning the machine you’re about to use because they were too lazy to wipe it down. Not only is it unpleasant but it contaminates the equipment.
But just how germy is another person’s sweat really?
Dr Danilla Grando, associate professor of Clinical Microbiology at RMIT University explains while a puddle of sweat creates a breeding ground for our skin microbes to stay alive and multiply, the good news is if you have intact skin, you will not be harmed by contaminated equipment.
That said, if you have broken skin or a skin complaint such as eczema, you have a portal of entry for golden staph, requiring antibiotics if the infection becomes severe.
“Our skin has a ‘garden of microbes’ that loves sweat -- it acts as a kind of fertiliser -- and this is why we like to shower to bring the numbers of microbes down to an aesthetically pleasing level,” Dr Grando told The Huffington Post Australia.
This “skin garden” is very important as it is thought to have some regulatory effects for our skin health.
“One of the ‘sunflowers’ of our garden is golden staph, a microbe that behaves very well on intact skin. But on broken skin, it can misbehave and cause anything from minor skin infections to more severe infections,” Dr Grando said.
The problem however is that some strains of golden staph are becoming more resistant to antibiotic treatment, which is why it is so important to reduce our need to use antibiotics by helping to protect the vulnerable -- AKA by wiping down your area!
Dr Grando said while the current practices of general cleaning in gyms are sufficient, we shouldn't overlook the importance of always taking a towel to dry surfaces that you have left sweaty.
“There is also no need to worry about wiping down hand weights, handles, yoga mats as they dry out quickly and this is a good deterrent to bacteria -- that said, gym owners should as part of their regular cleaning remove grease build-up from such items as this can prevent the drying of surfaces,” Dr Grando said.
Dr Grando does however warn of wooden benches in gyms, as they are prone to splintering and this could break the skin.
“There have been some outbreaks of infection associated with clubrooms and splintery benches,” Dr Grando said.
One measure Dr Grando said is super important when it comes to using public gyms is investing in some shower sandals or thongs.
“Showers often don't get a chance to dry out and this can help the tinea fungus to grow. Remember to dry well between the toes to make it harder for tinea to grow,” Dr Grando said.