How Can Gym Equipment Be Harmful?

How Can Gym Equipment Be Harmful?

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Using gym equipment improperly could do more harm than good.

Photodisc/Valueline/Getty Images

Eager to improve their health, millions of people flock to gyms. A 2011 report by the The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association suggests that over 128 million consumers use fitness clubs worldwide. When it comes to disease and injury, though, gyms may be hazardous to your health. If you don't use the equipment in the gym properly and take certain precautions, you could get sick or hurt yourself.

Human Error

Imperfection hurts-especially at the gym! Gym injuries are often caused by inexperience and inattentiveness. Many new gym members are not familiar with the essentials of physical exercise. As such, they do not know to use certain machines and how to use correct form when performing certain exercises. At times, the person can be negligent and not pay enough attention while using an exercise machine. In some cases, the injuries are due to arrogance and recklessness. Big, strong and grandiloquent members sometimes get themselves hurt while trying to prove how strong they are.

When using an exercise machine that you are not familiar with, ask the staff for help. Pay close attention to your movements to prevent an accident. While a competitive spirit fosters growth, avoid taking it so far as to take unnecessary risks. Be careful when lifting dumbbells, because a 2010 study by the "American Journal of Sports Medicine" showed that a majority of injuries involve free weights.

Equipment Failure

The saying “nothing lasts forever” especially applies to the equipment in the gym. They are used repeatedly every day throughout the year. With such frequent use, it is not surprising that gym equipment is highly susceptible to damage or failure. This especially applies to machines (i.e., automatic treadmills, smith machines and leg press machines). If you notice that a machine is malfunctioning, resist the urge to use it. Rather, quickly alert the staff instead. By doing this, you protect the credibility of the gym and you safeguard yourself and other members of the gym.

Hygiene Problems

Because people are sweating and rubbing against the equipment, gyms are a breeding ground for germs. Skin infections are especially common. A paper in the 2010 issue of "Journal of Athletic Training" reported information from a literature review that researched outbreaks of infectious diseases in competitive sports from 1922 through 2005. It found that over 50 percent of these infectious diseases occurred through the skin. Though it seems tedious at times, wipe gym equipment before and after you use it. Wash yourself thoroughly with antimicrobial soap after going to the gym -- including inconspicuous areas such as your feet and armpits. Doing these things keep nasty microbes at bay.

Cultivating a Cautious Mindset

Be alert when using gym equipment. Ask yourself the following questions: Am using this machine correctly? Is this exercise working the muscles I intended it to target? Am I having trouble maintaining proper form with this amount of resistance? Do I feel pain when I do this exercise?

Also ask yourself how you can prevent illness. At times, people have a tendency to be negligent and minimize the importance of wiping the handles and seats of the equipment. Think about the grave consequences that could result from such a risk. Staphylococcus infections, for example, have been known to cause serious health problems.


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