The Worst Diseases You Can Catch At The Gym And How To Prevent Them


Most of us go to the gym for a simple reason: we want to stay healthy. Unfortunately, the gym is one of the primary areas where you put your health at risk!

That’s because there are a number of scary diseases you can catch at the gym. Scarier still is the fact that you may not know what you have until it has done some major damage!

What are these diseases, though? And more importantly, how can you prevent catching them? Keep reading to discover our complete guide!


Right now, the biggest health risk on everyone’s mind is COVID-19. And it seems like there is a new variant to worry about every time you turn around. Sadly, it’s very easy to catch COVID in a gym if an infected person touched a surface before you did or if you breathe in the air near an infected person (if the gym is poorly ventilated, they may not even need to be that close to you).

How to stay safe? Make sure you clean and disinfect surfaces before touching them, and try to work out in a well-ventilated gym. Finally, you should wear your own mask and try to find a gym where others do the same.

RELATED: The 4 Places You Are Most Likely To Catch COVID-19

Athlete’s foot

Just about everyone has had athlete’s foot at one time or another. That’s because you can get it once your feet get really sweaty inside your shoes. Obviously, that is going to happen during any vigorous workout!

The good news is that the solution is simple: make sure to change socks between workouts and thoroughly wash your gym clothes after workouts. Also, make sure the clothes are dry before you put them back up and you should be safe from athlete’s foot.


Staphylococcus bacteria is very common in gyms all around the world. And while it’s creepy to think about, a third of the population has staph on their skin at any given moment. Many who have it on their skin never get infected by it.

However, an infection is likely if you have any scratches or cuts on your body. Make sure to properly heal up from any such injuries before you return to the gym. If you must go to the gym, make sure your injuries are covered and that you avoid sharing towels. Finally, you need to thoroughly wipe down equipment before use and wash your hands afterward (which also helps you avoid getting COVID-19). 

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Plantar warts

Remember when we said not to walk around the gym barefoot? There are many reasons for this. And one of them is that walking around barefoot means you might catch plantar warts. Plantar warts are caused when the human papillomavirus (HPV) enters your system through tiny cuts, breaks or other weak spots on the soles of your feet.

While it’s possible to get HPV from skin-to-skin contact (such as sex), it’s also possible to get it from skin-to-surface contact. So if an infected person has been walking around at the gym, the very surface of the ground may put you at risk. For maximum safety, make sure you never walk around barefoot at the gym. If you need to use the shower, invest in shower slippers and put them on before you walk in.


Of all the diseases you can get at the gym, ringworm is perhaps the most obvious. That’s because you will see the telltale sign of a scaly-looking circle directly on your body. Ringworm is a rash caused by a fungal infection.

Like athlete’s foot, ringworm thrives in dark and moist environments. And that means you can avoid ringworm the same way you can avoid athlete’s foot. Just wipe down the equipment before use, change socks between workouts, and try to avoid walking around the gym barefoot. For added safety, you can also snag antifungal shampoo to really keep the ringworm away. 

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Cold and flu

Earlier, we talked about how easy it is to get COVID-19 at the gym. And it’s also very easy to catch a common cold or the flu for basically the same reason.

You can potentially catch a cold or flu when you come into contact with infected droplets. This may happen directly if someone coughs or sneezes on you while they work out. But it may happen indirectly if you touch gym equipment that someone has sneezed or coughed on.

This is why you need to always wipe down gym equipment before use. As your parents used to say, you don’t know where that thing has been!

Hot tub rash

Yes, if you were curious, “hot tub rash” is just as nasty as it sounds. The proper name for this is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, but the nickname “hot tub rash” helps underscore that you get this particular disease (which can cause painful rashes as well as swimmer’s ear) from things like hot tubs and public pools that don’t have enough chlorine in them.

To avoid this, it’s best to avoid public pools and hot tubs altogether. If you must use one, make sure that you take bath or shower soon afterward, and make sure you thoroughly wash the swimsuit that you were wearing.

Pink eye

Speaking of diseases with proper names, the technical term for pink eye is conjunctivitis. But most people call it “pink eye” because of the pink/reddish effect it has on your eyes even as it makes your eyes feel painful and itchy.

Like many of the items on this list, pink eye is something you can easily get in the gym by touching an infected surface. As usual, cleaning and disinfecting any surfaces you come in contact with and any equipment that you use should help you steer clear of getting infected while you work out.