How Hygienic are Britain’s Gym Enthusiasts?

Posted by Tom Drake

Although attending the gym might be new for some, a record 7 million Brits are already finessing their exercise routines, spending over  11 hours a week on fitness. But, while the nation is upping their exercise regime, it seems we’re not spending much time on our gym hygiene. 

So, Tap Warehouse has decided to question exercise enthusiasts in the UK to reveal how grimy their gym hygiene habits are…

23% of Brit Gym-Enthusiasts are Making Themselves Prone to Fungal Infections 

After you’ve got home from the gym, or finished exercising – what do you do? Jump straight in the shower, or reach for a snack? Tap Warehouse’s research uncovered that 23% of British fitness fanatics prefer to stay in their sweat-soaked gym clothes for an hour or longer. 

What’s more, despite women often being known as the more hygienic gender, 17% of females said they can wait up to 3 hours before showering, compared to just 11% of men.

Although Brits may be too tired after exercising to bathe, Dr Asif Munaf, a doctor, and founder of wellness company, Endorance, states that “people should aim to shower within an hour. And most definitely should not sleep without showering,” 

Otherwise “many bacterial, as well as mycotic (fungal) infections can spread in damp conditions, such as on sweaty clothes and in between the toes, as is the case with athletes foot,” he continued.

10% of Brits Never Wash Their Gym Clothes

gym-clothes

If you are the fitness type that leaves their sweat-soaked gym clothes on an hour or more, hopefully, you’ve at least washed the attire recently. Astonishingly, our research uncovered that 10% of Brits admit to never washing their gym clothes. 

Our research also revealed that 44% wear the same sweaty gym gear more than once, with 7% of Brits waiting five or more times before washing their gym kit. 

Thankfully, over half of Brits (55%) prefer to keep up their hygiene and wash their gym clothes after one use. But is there any harm in re-wearing gym clothes? 

According to Dr Abigail Short, a private doctor from Bark.com, “Gym clothes can harbour lots of bacteria due to sweat and because of the interaction between gym apparatus and public changing rooms. Touching fitness machines, wiping your sweaty head on your t-shirt, or sharing a barbell can transfer germs. So, it’s better to keep things clean in the gym.” So, whilst you may not feel dirty enough to shower after a workout your clothes may be.

1 in 8 of Brits Use the Same Cloth to Wipe Their Face & Gym Equipment

gym-sanitise

While exercising, the last thing you’re thinking about is cleanliness - especially if you’re sweaty and bothered. So, while wiping your face, you just might forget that you’ve already wiped down the machine with that same towel. In fact, our research found that over 1 in 8 (13%) Brits use the same cloth to wipe down the machinery and their face. 

If you have no qualms in wiping your face with a germy cloth, you might want to think otherwise. Just 19% of Brits admit to always cleaning gym equipment, and 46% have never sanitised the machinery. This means the equipment you’re using at the gym is more than likely covered in bacteria, commonly Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria, which can cause staph infections. Especially since “bacteria can happily live on equipment for three days,” states Dr Abigail Short. 

If that doesn’t disgust you - 20% of Brits confess to never washing their hands at the gym. So, whatever they’ve come into contact that day before going to the gym is likely to be all over those gym machines.

38% of Women are Exposing Their Skin to Breakouts 

If you’re a woman dragging yourself to the gym after work, you could possibly be wearing make-up, you’re wearing make-up. But, how many women remove their make-up before exercising? Not enough, according to our research - 38% of women wear make-up while exercising. 

However, does working out with a full face of make-up have any negative side-effects? According to dermatologists, yes. The mix of sweat and increased temperature means your pores are more open, leading make-up to clog in pores and breakouts. 

Not only are you likely to suffer from breakouts, but you could be creating a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. As previously mentioned by Dr Abigail Short; while at the gym, our hands and face are often touching yoga mats and other equipment – which could have plenty of germs on. If you’re wearing make-up, it makes it easier for the bacteria to cling on to.

40% of British Fitness-Fanatics Don’t Clean Their Water Bottle Enough

When was the last time you washed your water bottle? According to our research, 40% of Brits believe that leaving it unwashed for a couple of days is fine. 

However, you should be washing your bottle every day. 

“Not washing your bottle regularly can create an environment for germs to thrive, because of the moisture.” If you thought you were off the hook because you have a metal bottle, think again. “It doesn’t matter what material your bottle is made of, all bottles need to be washed with hot soapy water and thoroughly dried,” says Dr Abigail Short.

wash-gym-bag

Washing gym bags are not something most of us think about, which could be why more than half of Brits (53%) admit to never washing their bags. Most shockingly, just 15% wash within the recommended time - once a week. 

Dr Abigail Short from Bark.com says, “The likelihood of transferring germs and bacteria in your gym bag is high because of the environment you frequent with it, and the contents you put in it (damp sweaty clothes and trainers most likely).”

“If you can’t wash your bag that often, try not to place it on surfaces that could make you vulnerable to exposure of germs, like kitchen counters or on beds. Remember to always wash your hands after interacting with sweaty gym gear,” the doctor added.

Four Tips for Pumping Up Your Gym Hygiene

No doubt after reading this, you’re running for the hand sanitiser and anti-bacterial wipes. But don’t fret, there are plenty of ways to keep clean at the gym and afterwards.

  1. Wash hands - With so many people sharing the same equipment and areas at the gym, you should wash your hands thoroughly before and after. This can cut down your chances of contracting infections.
  2. Sanitise - Even if you have a home gym, you should still be sanitising the apparatus. Use a disinfectant spray to clean the equipment, and if you’re in a shared gym, it’s good etiquette to wipe down after use.
  3. Shower - Make sure you get out of those sweaty gym clothes and shower as soon as you can, to avoid the risk of skin infections. 
  4. Wash gym bag & water bottles - Your gym bag and water bottles are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria. So, it’s good to wash them regularly to limit your exposure to germs.

If you’ve enjoyed reading about Brits’ hygiene habits in the gym, you might appreciate discovering what Brits get up to in the bathroom