Who goes to the gym just to come back out sick? Gym sickness seems like such an oxymoron, doesn’t it. Between treadmills and Zumba class, we’re either sculpting that perfect summer body or releasing built-up tension from the long work day.
But what if the same holy shrine that encompasses our own mini makeovers is also the same breeding grounds for ingesting high levels of dangerous gases? Well, hold on to your yoga pants because researchers from Portugal and Holland have found that the gym could actually be making you sick.
Picture this: You’re in the middle of spin class, pushing through that last minute of dear agony, and the class is hyperventilating in unison.
Now while you may be exhaling that last bit of guilt over your third piece of chocolate cake, what you’re actually inhaling are high doses of hazardous gases.
Among the culprits is carbon dioxide, which when put into perspective, makes total sense. You are in a confined space with intensified breathing and little to no air circulation.
Now let’s go a step further.
Not only are you inhaling high levels of CO2, but because you are breathing in and out of your mouth you actually end up taking the gases straight to your lungs, as opposed to being filtered through your nose.
As a matter of fact, not only is CO2 one of the main saboteurs to your health routine, the study found that certain gyms also had airborne dust and formaldehyde levels exceeding all the safety standards for indoor air quality! Quick science lesson here; formaldehyde is found in embalming fluid, glues, paints, and a whole other variety of household products. Long-term exposures to such substances are unclear, but many believe that at high levels these gasses are cancer causing agents.
With today’s modernization, industrialization and a fast paced world, there has been countless advice from medical experts and health professionals in the print, broadcast, internet and social media that lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, asthma, obesity, cancer, respiratory infections and a host of other ailments are brought about by our sedentary lifestyles and lack of exercise.
This has led to the mushrooming of many fitness centers and gymnasiums allover such that it has become brisk business to operate such fitness outlets. People from all walks of life will always be found sweating and stretching their bodies to the limits in gyms.
In a sharp ironic twist, recent research has shown that going to the gym may actually be having a reverse effect to your health than what one would actually think. It has been found that the air quality in these gyms has been compromised by the presence of toxicants that are inhaled in the event of exercising.
These pollutants include:
• Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a product of complete combustion and also a product of human exhalation. With the heavy breathing, huffing and puffing inside gyms brought about by strenuous exercising, carbon dioxide is exhaled and circulated in copious amounts. Though carbon dioxide is in itself not a harmful gas to humans, it is an indoor pollutant and usually causes a greenhouse effect to the environment.
• Particulate matter
Particulate matter include dust particles that are to be found everywhere from the shoes we wear to the walls and floors of indoor facilities. Without exception, dust particles are sure to be found in the gym in plenty and with the deep breathing involved, a lot of it will be inhaled. Dust particles when inhaled can lead to upper respiratory tract infections and can even be an allergen trigger to diseases like asthma.
This is one of the indoor pollutants that can be found in the gym. Formaldehyde can be produced from some upholstery of furniture and carpets that can be found in gymnasiums. The adverse effects of formaldehyde when introduced into the human body over a long period of time cannot go unmentioned and also cannot be underestimated.
• Carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide is a product of incomplete combustion. Carbon monoxide readily combines with hemoglobin in the human body to form carboxyhaemoglobin which prevents the transfer of oxygen to tissues. The affinity of hemoglobin to carbon monoxide is 210 times its affinity to oxygen. This pollutant can be found in considerable amounts in gyms and the adverse effects to human health are many including headache, dizziness, nausea and breathing difficulties. The effects of carbon monoxide over a long period of time can also not be underestimated.
These can come from microbes such as fungi that can grow in heating and cooling systems due to excessive moisture. With such indoor equipments commonly found in gyms, there actually exist some considerable health effects that can come as a result of breathing in these toxic pollutants.
Other indoor pollutants that may be present in some amounts in gyms include but not limited to ozone, asbestos and some hydrocarbons which when exposed to the human body over a long period of time can cause adverse health effects.
With these research findings that the gym, a place where people go to improve the general state of their health can actually be having an opposite effect due to the presence of toxic indoor pollutants, then it remains to be seen what can be done to improve on the quality of air we breathe so that the health of people exercising in the gym will not be at stake for the long haul.
So what’s an exercise junkie supposed to do? As wonderful as being outside can be, sometimes you just don’t want the construction crew checking out your yoga poses. The next best solution? Scope out the gym for any U-Monitor and AIRcel devices or Pure-Air Zone signs BEFORE your workout. If you don’t see any, speak with the manager about having some brought in. These devices measure the air quality in real time and work immediately to resolve any high levels of disgustingness that could be lingering. Clean air, all day every day. Fresh air, on the other hand, may have to wait until you leave the locker room.
So the next time you jump off the treadmill and feel light-headed remember, you may be feeling the euphoria of finally having a bikini-ready body, OR you may have just ingested a truck load of dangerous gasses!
The only way to know for sure, look for a Pure-Air zone sign.
Become a member today and join the fist green community base on clean air!
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