In our times of sedentary lifestyle and a chronic lack of physical activities, many people are looking for opportunities to get more physical exercise and reduce their risks of becoming obese. Some try to incorporate increased amounts of physical activities to their daily life: they try to avoid using public transportation and elevators, they do plenty of walking and try to spend their weekends or days off outdoors and get involved in swimming, jogging, hiking, bicycle riding, etc. Some try to find extra time in their daily routine and do outdoors or indoors exercises, including working out in gym. By many specialists, regular exercises in gym (doing power exercising like weight lifting, or doing cardio exercises like walking on a treadmill or riding a bike, etc.) are considered the most effective for preventing weight gain and substantially reducing the risks for suffering from serious cardiovascular diseases. At the same time, as the new study suggested, there is very high risk for infections that most of gym-goers are exposed to.
According to the findings published in the beginning of 2013 by a group of scientists of Nuffield Health, a lack of personal hygiene is one of the most dangerous disadvantage and problems that most of the people attending gym have to face. The researchers carried out a study and asked about 2,000 people who are spending some time in a gym on a regular basis to answer a few questions as to their experiences. It turned out that every three of four gym-goers encounter a lack of proper personal hygiene almost every time they are exercising in gyms. In particular, plenty of participants of the study reported failure of people to remove their sweat from the gym equipment. Besides, more than a half of the respondents reported using various tools like towels, bottles with drinking water, or other products which actually do not belong to them. It happens accidentally, but should be considered a very dangerous tendency which can lead to increased risk for infection and quite serious health problems, the scientists say.
After analyzing the collected data and materials, the scientists came to the conclusion that all of those who visit gyms on a regular basis are exposed to increased risks for infections including the risks of cold, flu, and especially various skin infections, including fungal infections. ‘Yes, it’s unpleasant when the person before you hasn’t wiped their sweat off the machine they’ve been using, but the health implications of this and the other hygiene issues our study revealed can be more wide ranging than this,” said Sarah Marsh, one of the study leaders and a specialist of fitness and wellbeing at Nuffield Health. She underlined that negative effects of a lack of personal hygiene in public places like gyms usually get even more significant with the temperature rising, therefore, visiting gyms in summer can be considered more dangerous compared to the visits in winter times, when the outside temperatures are relatively low. In summer, the risks of not only respiratory, but also digestive system problems get increased drastically.
Other findings of the research include more horrible information. The scientists could see that about 22 per cent of those who visited gym regularly had to stop their training sessions due to infections caused by a lack of personal hygiene or the problem of excessive nudity in the dressing rooms. At that, every one of five people who participated in the study admitted that they did not stop visiting gyms even when they had a flu or a skin infections like athlete foot. Finally, about 20 per cent of the participant admitted never washing their clothes between workouts in gym, and about one third of the respondents reported working out without using deodorants or even without wearing socks. This was the first study of the effects of a lack of personal hygiene in public places like gyms on health of the people who visit those, and the first study pointing to increased risk for infections in public gyms.
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