Gym users' bags contaminated with bacteria, says study

7th of August 2015
Gym users' bags contaminated with bacteria, says study

If you're planning to go to the gym this weekend, maybe take a few moments to clean your gym bag. Because according to a study by Initial Washroom Hygiene in the UK, 60 per cent of Britons' gym bags carry high levels of bacterial contamination.

Swab tests carried out found more than one in three (35 per cent) bags harboured coliform bacteria on the handle. These bacteria are typical indicators of poor hygiene and outside the body are predominantly found in faecal matter.

Any presence of coliform bacteria carries a significant threat of illness and cross contamination, yet the dirtiest bag within the test contained seven times the acceptable level of coliform counts.

Bags made of leather were found to hold more bacteria than those made of canvas or nylon - the spongy surface texture of leather providing the perfect conditions for bacteria to live and grow.

With bags designed to be carried and handled by their owners, and research estimating that 80 per cent of all infections are transmitted by hands, thorough washing and hygiene practices are crucial in combatting the spread of bacteria. This is especially true in busy gym environments, which typically have high footfall, multiple touch-points and warm conditions.

Bags belonging to females were just as likely to have high levels of bacteria as those belonging to males (64 per cent vs. 61 per cent respectively).

Dr Peter Barratt, technical manager for Initial Washroom Hygiene commented: "Gym bags are portable - we take them with us into our homes, place of work, in our cars and on public transport. If they become contaminated, their potential for accumulating and transferring bacteria and virus particles is significant.

"Our study demonstrates how relevant the provision of easily accessible hand washing facilities and hand sanitisers is in gyms, to help prevent cross contamination between members."



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