I'm not much of a fan of the gym. It's not that I don't like to sweat, but I'd prefer to do it outdoors, or at home atop my yoga mat. But for many of us it's the workout of choice especially in those places where access to nature just isn't as easy to comeby. But what if the gym could make you sick? Really, really sick? According to a recent article in the Washington Post, antibiotic-resistant staph infections are looming in crowded locker rooms and on heavily utilized exercise equipment. Staph infections, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria, can spread through shared gym equipment, mats, and towels, according to the article. I've written about the problem with MRSA in hospitals. The deadly infection is linked to more than 18,000 deaths per year in the US.
The infection has become a problem in hospitals because the bug lives on the skin in healthy people, but when it's able to get into the body, it becomes deadly. The same is true at the gym; infections occur in cuts and wounds and on certain body parts like the armpits and neck. You can prevent problems by using a clean towel on sweaty equipment and properly cleaning the equipment you do use.
And then there are the dirty pools in some health fitness clubs.
According to the article:
Inspections at 3,666 health clubs in 13 states found serious lapses requiring the immediate closing of 10 percent of the pools, according to a May report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Improperly maintained circulation and filtering systems and skimpy disinfection were among the most common problems.
The article recommends using do-it-yourself test strips to test the water. But for me, I just couldn't stomach the possibility. We already knew that most gyms and massive health fitness centers could be a drain on the environment and now it seems, they may also make you very ill. All the more reason to head outside.