Getty Images/Maskot
Lindsey Sirera
May 10, 2017 10:49 am

Not like we’re looking for an excuse *not* to exercise, but if we were looking for a reason to skip the gym in favor of Netflix and pizza, this would be it.

While we’re all well versed on the fact that the world is a germy place and also that disinfectant wipes should be our best friends, it’s easy to forget just how filthy the objects around us every day can be. For example, your phone. Or you beauty brushes. Or even your trusty purse (*cringe*). So of course, it comes as no surprise that public gyms are playgrounds for bacteria. And according to a study conducted by EmLab & PK on behalf of FitRated (a site that compares and rates different kinds of gym equipment), your average treadmill, exercise bike and free weights are ~teeming~ with germs.

Like, *way* more germs than you’d even dream of—eeek!

For starters, do NOT go near the hand weights without some disinfectant in hand. Promise? According to the study, which collected bacteria samples from 27 pieces of equipment across three different gyms, the free weights carried an average of 1,158,381 CFU (which is a colony forming unit, for all of you non-scientific folks).

Getty Images/Mike Harrington

Translation: free weights have 362 times more bacteria than your average toilet seat.

The treadmill and exercise bikes performed only slightly better, with averages of 1,333,432 CFU and 1,333,417 CFU respectively. In plain speak, your treadmill has 74 times more bacteria than your water faucet. And that exercise bike is 39 times dirtier than your typical reusable cafeteria tray.

If this has you feeling less than confident about your recent gym membership, then this information isn’t going to help either. According to the study, more than 70 percent of the bacteria detected is potentially harmful to your health, with a range of nasty side effects that include (but are not limited to) skin infections and antibiotic resistance.

Okay, so… maybe taking a jog in the park sans gym equipment is the ideal exercise alternative if this study has got your gagging (like us). Or perhaps some yoga on your own personal mat is in order. Just promise that whatever you do, you’ll use some hardy disinfectant on your gym equipment, mat, shoes, etc. when you’re done.

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