Your face is red, your muscles are burning out, but you will be darned if you drop that weight before you hit 20 reps. What are you (and your trainer) telling yourself to do at this point to keep going?
“Remember to breathe.”
Proper breathing is critical to your fitness success (and, well, living in general). It’s especially important in classes such as Yoga and Pilates where the focus is predominantly on breathing. However, those deep “cleansing” breaths may not be as clean as you think. In many gyms, aside from oxygen, you are also breathing in carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ozone, dust, cleaning chemicals and even formaldehyde.
A recent study measured the doses of these dangerous gases over the course of a month at peak hours of a select group of gyms. Researchers found that the high levels of pollutants collected exceed the indoor safety standards of air quality.
High levels of dust (kicked up from members going through the whole range of motions) and formaldehyde (yes, formaldehyde, as in the substance used to preserve dead animals) were the main culprits. However, the biggest concern was the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) measured, that are just a natural effect of all that healthy exercise. The problem is that all this healthy exercise is happening in a (usually) small, confined space, like an aerobics studio. When we breathe during exercise, we are mostly breathing through the mouth and this means the air is not being filtered through our nostrils, causing this polluted air to get sucked deeper into our lungs.
Now, as horrific as this sounds, there is a simple solution for gym facilities: ensure there is proper ventilation. People are not going to stop coming to the gym to work out—especially when it’s colder than the arctic outside—but this should be a wake-up call for gym and sports facilities. Ensuring proper ventilation and paying closer attention to the cleaning products you use can go a long way in improving air quality. Mopping instead of sweeping the floors will also help to reduce the amount of dust.
There are many solutions facilities can use to improve their air quality. Do your research and make sure you are providing a healthy place for clients to work on their fitness!