Gym Hygiene: Is It True That Your Barbell Has More Germs Than A Toilet Seat?

The dumbbell that you're curling probably contains more germs than toilet seats, according to a study.


By Ali Eaves

That dumbbell you curled today was probably germier than a toilet seat, according to a new report from

Researchers gathered bacteria samples from equipment at three different fitness chains.

Related: Air Travel - How To Avoid Catching Germs

On average, the treadmills, exercise bikes, and free weights each had more than one million bacteria cells per square inch.

To put that in context, a typical toilet seat has only 3,200 bacteria cells per square inch, according to the report.

That means the average dumbbell has 362 times more germs than a toilet seat. The treadmills and bikes were even worse offenders, with 417 times more bacteria than a toilet seat.

Related: 7 Health Hazards Lurking In Your Home

Of course, not all kinds of bacteria make you sick. But more than 70 percent of the bugs the researchers found on gym equipment were potentially harmful to humans, according to the report. Some of the bacteria can cause pneumonia or infect your skin, ears, eyes, or respiratory system.

To stay healthy while you work out, wipe down all equipment with disinfectant before and after you use it, avoid touching your face during your workout, and scrub your hands immediately afterward with warm water and soap, says Donald Schaffner, Ph.D., a microbiology expert and Rutgers University professor.

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