This is a guest post by Sam from highstylife.com about whether you should worry about your gym's air quality. It's a topic we don't normally think about, but it's quite important to consider nonetheless. After all, who would want to get sick from going to the gym and trying to be fit? That would suck, right? Read on to find out more!:)
There’s really no secret that the air we breathe in the gym isn’t of the best quality, at least not at all times. Although most (or all, hopefully) gyms these days have ACs, air filters, mold and air purifiers, the “stale air” and dirty exercising equipment still majorly contribute to the air remaining thick and unsanitary.
As the culture of going the gym in the 21st century has extremely increased in comparison to the previous times, committed gym goers are now spending hours and hours at their local gyms daily. Consequently, although they do get in shape, most people have experienced health difficulties such as disrupted breathing after having attended the gym for a while. This prompted experts from Holland and Portugal to conduct a study that would get on top of the air quality in gyms and see how (un)clean and harmful this air actually is.
In this study, the levels of dangerous gases like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and ozone were measured along with the presence of airborne particulates such as dust, cleaning product particles, chemicals released by carpeting or painting, etc. The testing was focused on the usually busiest time at the gym, such as the after-work rush. Although somewhat expected, it still wasn’t all that pleasant to learn that the levels of pollutants were so high that they exceeded all the safety standards set for indoor air quality.
What was the biggest problem?
Airborne dust seemed to be one of the most dominant problems in the gym spaces. Additionally, many gyms contained too high levels of formaldehyde, which additionally compromises your health. The biggest surprise was carbon dioxide (CO2), i.e. incredibly high levels of it that were a direct result of all the (healthy) exercising. When breathing in and out intensely at the gym, CO2 gets condensed and creates forms of unhealthy air for the gym patrons to inhale. Moreover, CO2 alone can cause light-headedness, fatigue, and foggy thinking, symptoms that then magnify the detrimental effects. As Dr. Carla Ramos, the lead author of the study, observes,
When we exercise, we take in more air with each breath and most of that air goes through the mouth, bypassing the natural filtration system in the nostrils. The pollutants go deeper into the lungs compared to resting situations.
Does mold play a role in the low air quality?
Gyms are generally moldy places due to all the sweat, showers and even locations of the gyms (basements, ground floor spaces, and other similar spaces that don’t get enough natural air). Exposure to moldy environments is known to cause either a variety of health problems or none at all. As observed, the effect of mold on one’s health is an individual thing, although there are some specific reactions like respiratory problems, eye irritation, fatigue, coughing or wheezing, nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. Extreme cases record cardiovascular problems such as coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms and stroke. Regardless of individuals’ predispositions to catch a mold-related disease, experts advise athletes to check if their local gym is using a reliable air purifier for mold and if it has a proper ventilation system to ensure their exercising is safe (well, as safe as it can be).
Despite the research that gave pretty worrisome results, no one is advising against indoor exercising or suggesting quitting the gym altogether. The purpose of the study was to establish the average air quality at local gyms and warn everyone to be just a bit more careful about their health. If anything, the study was a wake-up call for the fitness industry to start paying closer attention to the quality of their indoor spaces in terms of mold reduction, proper ventilation, cleanliness, and safety.