Gym hygiene 'could make you ill'

Going to the gym may not be as beneficial as you think because some fitness fans' poor hygiene could leave you ill, according to a new survey.

Almost three quarters (74%) of people polled by Nuffield Health said they had witnessed "bad fitness etiquette" in the gym including poor hygiene like failing to clean sweaty equipment.

Almost half of those polled admitted using something in the gym that did not belong to them, including towels, water bottles or toiletries.

Nuffield warned the behaviour could leave people open to catching colds and flu from other gym users, as well as fungal infections such as athlete's foot.

Sarah Marsh, the firm's professional head of fitness and wellbeing, said: "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.

"We encounter disease-causing germs every day, although generally few of us become ill. We know these germs may easily be spread by unwashed hands - through direct contact with someone or indirectly through touching contaminated objects - so as the temperature dips outside, there are many more bugs around and our immune systems are challenged by the flu season's arrival - not wiping down gym equipment can help germs spread. These germs can cause not only vomiting and diarrhoea but also respiratory infections."

The survey of 2,000 people also found that 22% of people were put off exercise by poor hygiene or excessive nudity in changing rooms.

Eighteen per cent of exercisers admitted going to the gym when suffering from colds, coughing and sneezing.

More than a third (35%) admitted to exercising without deodorant or socks on and 16% admitted not washing gym clothes between workouts.