Joe goes to the gym. 

Performs the plyometric push-ups to warm up.

To elevate his workout, he proceeded to the Iso-lateral Incline Press. 

After a few minutes, Joe takes a break, breathes deeply, and as he lets his muscles rest for a few seconds, he thinks about bench press as his next workout activity. 

This may be one of the most common daily scenarios in gyms and fitness centers. And while these establishments are known to foster health and wellbeing, it may not be as good as most of us have thought. 

According to a number of studies, indoor air quality in gyms is brimmed with pollutants.

 

Factors contributing to poor indoor air quality in gyms and fitness centers

The unique features and characteristics of fitness facilities convey a range of potential air quality concerns. Here are some of them: 

 

  • People

In gyms, users are breathing heavier than in other built environments, and all that huffing and puffing due to high-impact workouts actually impact indoor air quality. A report released by the BrightSurf Science News revealed that one sweaty, huffing, exercising person emits as many chemicals from their body as up to five sedentary people. The acetone and carbon dioxide exhaled during workout routines as well as the amino acids from sweat combine with the air and negatively impact IAQ.

Moreover, heavier breathing expels virus containing droplets faster thus, increasing the risk of virus infection. 

 

  • Machines and Fitness Equipment

Weight training machines, rubber mats, metal plates, dumbbells banging together and even dead pieces of skin from other people working out produce particulate matter. Particulate Matter or PM is a combination of solid and liquid particles such as sulfates, nitrates, organic compounds, dust or soil, these particles are so small that they can easily penetrate a person’s nasal cavity and enter the lungs which can cause asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer. The chances of inhaling Particulate Matter increases when you are breathing excessively in an enclosed environment. 

 

  • Poor Ventilation

Ventilation is the act of controlling indoor air quality by  introducing outdoor air into an enclosed space. When gyms and fitness centers are cramped, with low ceilings, high occupancy and are located in basements of over shops, inadequate ventilation is more likely. 

Gyms with poor air flow can end up with high humidity, unbalanced temperature and bad odors. Due to the exposure to unhealthy air, gym facilities may encounter problems including: 

    • Virus infection
    • Mold and mildew growth
    • Customer complaints due to odors9 to 10 (Severe)
    • Poorly functioning HVAC system
    • Facility and equipment deterioration

 

  • Cleaning and Sanitizing Products

Many gym managers and owners use chlorine bleach-based materials to sanitize used gym equipment. While these products are effective to kill bacteria and viruses that linger in surfaces, these products release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and formaldehyde which can cause dizziness, skin irritation and can damage your gym client’s central nervous system. 

 

How to improve indoor air quality in gyms

Now that you are familiar with the common sources of poor indoor air quality in gyms, it is now time to discuss the most effective ways to keep indoor air pollution from impacting your clients’ fitness routine and your entire business operations: 

  • Ensure proper ventilationOld , moist air should not be allowed to stay inside a gym facility, this shall be vented outside. Consider using exhaust fans to allow natural air to recirculate, locker rooms shall also have a good ventilation system to keep the moisture from sweat and showers out. 

The installation of wider and bigger windows is also recommended. 

  • Conduct regular HVAC system maintenance – regular HVAC system inspection is essential to make sure that it is free from harmful particles and allergens. By making your HVAC system clean, you are not only protecting your clients’ health, you are also enhancing your HVAC’s performance and reducing your energy bills. 

 

  • Practice safe cleaning methods – gym facility managers should use greener cleaning supplies, disinfectant sprays and sanitizing products. Providing hand wash and shower soaps to employees and clients is also recommended to prevent the spread of bacteria.

 

  • Monitor and keep your indoor air quality in check  – before learning how to improve indoor air quality in gyms, facility managers must first identify the problem and its source. uHoo Aura is the most advanced indoor air quality sensor that is designed to provide real-time measurements on the different factors and chemicals affecting indoor air – temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, air pressure, VOCs and more.

uHoo Aura also comes with a Virus Index that uses a 10-point scoring system and is divided into four categories: Good, Mild, Bad and Severe. 

 

1 to 3 (Good) Virus survival is low and the virus spreading in the air is unlikely.
4 to 6 (Mild) Virus survival is moderate and the virus spreading in the air is possible but air quality poses little to almost no direct health risk for people who are usually not sensitive to air pollution. Sensitive people may experience health effects. More attention to air quality should be given and actions to improve air quality are recommended.
7 to 8 (Bad) Virus survival is prolonged and likelihood of the virus spreading in the air is higher. Air quality poses some health risks. Critical assessment of your air quality is necessary and actions to improve air quality is required.
9 to 10 (Severe) Virus survival is high and the virus spreading in the air is likely. Air quality would affect most people and actions to improve air quality are necessary.

 

Having the right and well monitored IAQ (indoor air quality) data is useful in creating strategies on how to improve indoor air quality in gyms and create a fitness environment that’s healthy and virus-free. To discover what uHoo Aura can do for your business: 

 

 

References: 

  1. https://bengreenfieldlife.com/article/biohacking-articles/gym-outdoor-air-pollution/
  2. https://www.sandhillsheating.com/blog/how-hvac-maintenance-improves-your-indoor-air-quality
  3. https://purdistribution.com/?p=864
  4. https://www.clubindustry.com/step-by-step/improving-indoor-air-quality-your-fitness-center-by-controlling-vocs
  5. https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/cleaning-products-hurt-air-quality
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