Avoid the Gym to Stay Healthy

New year, new me! Off to the gym I go! 

Mmm, wait a minute! Slow down there eager beaver! Training indoors may not be the best option… 


Recent studies are showing that fitness centres can have high levels of carcinogens and harmful bacteria on the surface of fitness equipment [1]. GrossA smarter choice may be to go outdoors or at least research the gym you're going to go to.

The Air you Breathe can make you Weak 

Depending on where you live,  training outside may not be all sunshine and roses though, use your head while you're using your legs, running alongside busy roads and breathing polluted air will make you weak, the opposite of what we want. Centres for disease control, environmental protection agencies and medical journals report that those exposed to air pollutants in urban areas are more likely to suffer from heart disease, even if they are in good shape. But studies now are also revealing that the air in gyms could be as toxic as the polluted air of urban areas.  

So if you want to run or go on a bike, why not find a trial or park, if it's winter, dark and/or cold outside, why not train at home and be sure to ventilate your place? A good workout doesn't need a gym. And if you don't know what to do, you got no excuses! So much brilliant content these days for free on Instagram and YouTube. Or ask the Everest instructors for advice and use the different stretching and other routines we have supplied you.    

Don't get us wrong if going to the gym is the only place you can go, it's way better to go to the gym and do some exercise that staying in your sofa and doing nothing. Just be aware of recent data regarding gym air quality [2]. 



Air Quality in Fitness Centres 


A new study carried out by Carla Ramos, checking the air of a gym in Lisbon, Portugal showed a high level of carbon dioxide, formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOC) [3].  

They studied the composition of the air when the gym was the most crowded. They measured the level of various chemical compounds including; carbon dioxide, ozone, dust and other particulates  released by cleaning products, furniture, paint and almost all the equipment you can have in a gym.  

The results were not good, the levels of all these chemicals compounds were higher than the safe limit. These results were magnified  when aerobic or biking classes were underway or just generally, when people were crowded into small spaces, sweating, producing humidity, moving dust, breathing [4]. Double gross.   

At Everest we don’t care about breathing, we are f**king obsessed with it. As it happens all the time however, it’s easy to ignore. Ideally our body temperature is higher than our environment, we inhale fresh cool air and exhale humid air, rich in carbon dioxide. Imagine then what is probably happening in any studio gym or small spinning class rooms. You're not breathing fresh air, your breathing a mix of condensed recycled high carbon dioxide air from the lungs of the guy who seemingly never brushes his teeth. Bacteria being sprayed around everywhere.  Combine this with the fact that your body in an active state breathes way more, equalling lower air quality and more pollutants being absorbed by your body. Yuk. 

An excess of carbon dioxide can make it harder to breath or make you feel dizzy. Often gyms use recycled air (AC systems) rather than using real ventilation connected to outside air. Take into account all the factors we were talking about and think about your lungs. Training indoors may not be all it seems.   

As mentioned exercise means deeper breathing as your muscles need oxygen to move; recover and to avoid cramps or injuries. Turns out oxygen is really important…duh! We must connect back to nature and our true nature.  Or at least install a good air filter in your home or have plants to produce a fresh air at your place, your muscles will thank you. (Ask us or Google the best plants for oxygen).  

Now onto another sexy subject…Indoor mold! This is common in gyms because they are full of moist air. Swimming pools, saunas, showers, the condensation that is formed on the window while we are all sweating. This constant dampness is enough for bacteria to thrive and mold to take hold and produce toxins. 

I'm sure living in Spain you've gone into a poorly maintained place. We all feel uncomfortable when the humidity rate is high, maybe you smell it too, you struggle to breath, the ambience is heavy, you don't feel at ease, if you enter a gym and you feel that way, maybe you should trust your instinct and turn around and workout at home or in the park [6]. 

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We love to suffer when we exercise, we are trying to beat our record or the guy or gal on the bike next to you. But if we need to struggle to breathe for reasons not connected to the exercise underway, not only will you not break your PB you may even be having a negative effect on your body. Precious energy is being spent on an invisible internal battle, to not let bacteria and later sickness take hold.  

To conclude, bacteria and mold live and proliferate easily in a sweaty, damp environment. As mentioned the more you breathe, the more bacteria you inhale. Carla Ramos' study about the air quality in Lisbon's gym, was later replicated across Europe and the US. She additionally found that in sufficient concentrations the different volatile substances can contribute to asthma [7]. 

How and where you breathe can change your life.  


Dirt in the Gym 


Particle Matter is a mixture of suspended solid and liquid droplets (nitrates, sulfates, organic chemicals, metals, dust). We call these particles PM10, they're an important consideration for indoor air quality because they're small enough to pass through nasal cavities and enter the lungs and potentially cause health problems like asthma. 

Unfortunately these particles can come from everything you find in a gym, dead pieces of skin (just puked in my mouth), metal from the equipment,  chemical cleaners used in the gym (full of toxic components). Using a good air filter in a gym can help a lot, but they won't help against toxic chemicals in cleaning agents,  which can enter the air and get recirculated. Filters must check changed regularly, we live in Spain…you think that's being done? 

Most gyms use mechanical ventilation and generally the ventilated air is at rates not up to healthy levels. "There are high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the building materials, gym equipment, alcohol-based gel disinfect for hands."  

It has been shown that the levels of VOCs were higher when the gym has new equipment and use chemical cleaners. Exposure to VOCs in high levels can cause skin irritation, neurotoxicity, and hepatotoxicity (toxicity of the liver), some can be carcinogenic [8].  


"My gym is in a new building and Pedro changes the filters all the time" Yeah, new buildings aren't going to cut it either, VOCs are almost more of a problem there thanks to new equipment, nowadays almost all furniture contain chemical products to look extra shiny and new smelling for longer; these products are toxic. I for one have felt dizzy, uncomfortable, even have had some difficulty concentrating in office environments...but maybe that's just something to do me…Lastly if the building hasn't got good air ventilation, the effects are compounding, the particles circulate again and again [9].  

Sidenote; if you do work in an office open the window… and jump out…no… Just open the window and also make yourself a small jungle of living plants on your desk. It's really therapeutic to look after something. 

If the air quality in your gym isn't good [10]; it's understandable, large gyms and chains of gyms care about profit, they don't care one bit about your health. Imagine then public facilities, governments have countries to invade, the air quality and mold situation in public facilities just simply isn't on their agenda, frightening when you think of children using them. These gyms are found to have high level of coarse matter particles, that can cause allergic responses. 

Your health is more important than anything else, without it you have nothing. Almost any other problem in life can be hidden away from a while, but like your breath, you health is always with you, always determining your mood.  

Obviously if you want to remain healthy, keep exercising, that's a given, this article is to try to make you think about WHERE you pump your guns and WHERE you try beat the stranger you'll never see again. Try to train outside as much as you can, go to the large and franchise gyms as a back up.  Don't use the excuse that the sun is already down or still not up,remember you don't need to pay a joining fee or make excuses to be at one with Mother Nature…

Everest Mindful Thaiboxing