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Could Your Gym Be Making You Sick?

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Published on Aug 26, 2013

For most people, going to the gym and getting in a workout is a way to improve their athletic skills, personal appearance and overall health. Unfortunately, although many gyms and athletic training centers provide an excellent opportunity to achieve these goals, they are also often a breeding ground for all types of bacteria and fungi.

Any place that has a concentration of people and where you come into contact with others can increase your risk of getting someone else's infection. While these are often respiratory infections, gyms also provide an ideal opportunity for skin infections to spread. This is due to sweaty bodies coming into direct contact with shared equipment, mats, towels and locker rooms.

Skins infections among athletics are quite common. One in particular has become an increasing concern and is due to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, more commonly referred to as MRSA. MRSA is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics and can be difficult to treat. People who become infected with MRSA from the gym typically develop a skin infection. In some cases, it can develop into a serious health threat. Other potential pathogens include Acinetobacter, Candida, Klebsiella and others.

Gyms with pools and hot tubs can also become breeding grounds for pathogens if not properly maintained. A recent study by the CDC found fecal matter in 58% of public swimming pools. The study detected E. coli in over 50% of the pool samples, indicating that swimmers frequently introduced fecal material into pools. A potentially serious health concern related to hot tubs is Legionnaires' disease. It is caused by a type of bacteria known as Legionella and people can become infected if they breathe in a mist or vapor that contains the organism.

These are just a few things to know about fungal and bacterial pathogens in gyms and athletic centers. To learn more about this or other microbial, indoor air quality and environmental, health and safety issues, please visit the websites shown in the video.

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