Hitting the gym is supposed to be good for us, and in many ways it is. We’re improving cardiovascular health, shedding dangerous belly fat, and basically just extending our lives when we exercise regularly. Working out still comes with a few pitfalls such as injuries and soreness, but the scariest of all may be the nasty germs you can pick up from exercise equipment.

Fit Rated gathered bacteria samples from 27 different pieces of equipment at several gyms to get a feel for how much bacteria we actually touch when we use a rowing machine, treadmill, or free weights. The results, to say the least, were disgusting. Exercise equipment boasted more germs than items commonly thought to be the most germ-ridden.

Treadmills had 74 times more bacteria than a water faucet, and exercise bikes had 39 times more bacteria than a reusable cafeteria tray. Free weights were the worst by far — with 362 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Seventy percent of the bacteria identified are potentially harmful to humans, and some are known to cause skin infection and others are resistant to antibiotics.

Many gyms try to stop the spread of these germs by offering antibacterial wipes, but clearly not everyone makes use of them. Of course, working out at home or outside could help, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. You can avoid coming in contact with as many germs as possible by thoroughly wiping down equipment before using it. Trying to keep your hands away from your mouth after using shared equipment helps reduce your chances of getting sick.

Germs Gym
What kinds of germs are on your favorite equipment? Fit Rated
How do gyms compare with other places? Fit Rated