The coronavirus pandemic has shone the spotlight on poor air quality issues in indoor spaces where there is an increased possibility of exposure to viruses. One such environment are the fitness studios. Gyms, weight rooms, and wellness studios are places where air quality can be easily compromised not only because of the number of people that regularly frequent them but also because of the nature of activities that are done. In a study of air quality in 11 gyms conducted by researchers from the University of Lisbon in Portugal and the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands, it was found that the levels of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter were way above threshold. The study which was published in Building and Environment also pointed out the fact that the air pollutants were at their highest during peak occupancy hours for the gyms.

High Levels of Carbon Dioxide, Particulate Matter and VOCs

In built environments such as fitness centers, CO2 is primarily produced by the occupants; the level by which it changes depends on the number of people that occupy the space and their level of activity or energy utilization. CO2 levels rise when more people exert physical activity in the room. This is exacerbated by poor ventilation and the lack of natural air exchange in the fitness studio. What makes this particularly concerning is not just the short-term effects such as feeling discomfort or fatigue, but also potential long-term health issues such as development or worsening of asthma, allergies, and other cardiovascular and respiratory conditions.  

Studies have pointed out that the levels of indoor particulate matter (PM) and volatile organic compound (VOC) pollution can be influenced by the combined effects of occupants’ activities, accumulation of ambient air emissions that have not been filtered through ventilation, and the building’s characteristics. Building materials and fitness equipment normally contain high levels of VOCs. Foam mats, rubber equipment, chalk, carpets as well as cleaning and disinfecting materials used in fitness facilities produce harmful emissions which, if not properly flushed out,  accumulate and are inhaled by occupants. During exercise, people breathe more and deeper through their mouths, which bypasses the human body’s natural filters inside the nose thereby increasing the risk of ultrafine particles going deeper into the lungs. This can lead to serious health issues.

Continuous IAQ Monitoring Addresses Air Quality Issues

Fitness studio owners and managers need to know what’s going on at all times. This can be done by utilizing continuous indoor air quality monitoring solutions that provide accurate real-time data; this helps them understand air quality issues and take appropriate measures to regularly improve conditions such as regulating temperature and humidity levels, providing sufficient air exchange rate and proper filtration – all crucial healthy air operating practices. 

Ensuring health and overall comfort should be the primary lookout of fitness studio owners and managers, especially if they are trying to win the trust and confidence of their customers. Indeed, there are countless benefits of exercising but the conditions of the indoor environment should not be discounted, as polluted air counters the positive effects of exercise to people’s health.