Recreation Management - Ideas and Solutions for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

December 2017


Preventing Germs in Gyms: What Works?

Recent Rec Report Feature Stories

Study: Laws Reduce Recurrent Concussions - December 2017

Grants Awarded for Urban Water & Wildlife Habitat Restoration - December 2017

APSP University Launches New Certification Course - November 2017

New Series Aims to Empower Students With Healthy Habits - November 2017

US Club Soccer Puts Focus on Player Safety - November 2017

New Initiative Aims to Ensure All Have Access to Parks & Rec - November 2017

L.A. Parks Earn Mostly Positive Report Card - October 2017

Health Club Memberships Up, Led by Youth & Older Adults - October 2017

Dallas Park Recognized With ASLA Award - October 2017

Adult Obesity Rates Leveling Off - October 2017

Improving Kids' Wellness—In the Classroom - October 2017

Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Development Continues - September 2017

Louisville Splash 'n' Dash 5K Raises $35,000+ for Norton Children's Hospital - September 2017

Philadelphia Eagles Go Green - September 2017

High School Sports Participation Up, Nearing 8 Million - September 2017

Inside South Side High School's Redevelopment - August 2017

New Health Research Conducted at Special Olympics - August 2017

Protect Players From Heat - August 2017

Tackling the Active Play Deficit - August 2017

Botanical Garden Partners With Businesses on Health - July 2017

Survey Examines Parents' View of Play - July 2017

Kids Swim Free in Tucson This Summer - July 2017

Building Communities to Encourage Physical Activity - June 2017

California Campus Converts Courts to Golf Practice Space - June 2017

Where Are the Nation's Top City Park Systems? - June 2017

KaBOOM! Brings Play to Military Kids - May 2017

USA Basketball Open Court Sessions Get Youths Into the Game - May 2017

Educators Push Legislators to Support Health & Physical Education Programs - May 2017

NFHS Revises Rules for Competitive Spirit Squads - May 2017

Pool & Spa Professionals Fight Immigration Restrictions - April 2017

Grants Available to Boost Dog Parks - April 2017

New Aquatic Management Program Aims to Improve Safety, Efficiency - April 2017

16 Cities Nationwide to Receive Park Improvement Funding - April 2017

Study Confirms: People Pee in Pools - March 2017

Volunteers Get Hands-On History Experience in Virginia - March 2017

Park Hop Inspires Park Usage - March 2017

National Health Campaign Reaches 228,000 Youth in Three Years - March 2017

Outdoor REC Act Signed Into Law - February 2017

Happy 125th B-Day B-Ball! - February 2017

Study Shows Majority—Even Athletes—Are 'Overfat' - February 2017

Gym-Goers Like YMCA Best; Planet Fitness Winning Market Share - February 2017

Georgia State Park Celebrates Its Dark Sky Status - January 2017

Texas Tech Focuses on Functional Fitness - January 2017

Preventing Pool Closings - January 2017

Majority of U.S. Households Visit Attractions - January 2017

City of Henderson Awarded for Water Safety Programs - December 2016

Grant Brings Outdoor Fitness Area to Park - December 2016

Alliance Recommends Actions to Improve Kids' Activity Stats - December 2016

By Dave Ramont

According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), there were more than 36,000 health clubs in the United States in 2016. Furthermore, over 66 million Americans used a health club and more than 57 million were members of at least one athletic facility, which was an increase over previous years. And while these numbers are good news when it comes to Americans getting healthier, the downside is that there has also been a rise in the number of community-acquired infections (CAIs) in gyms.

Though most commonly found in hospitals, outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other CAIs have become more common in athletic centers. Therefore it's important for facilities to look at hygiene protocols and come up with preventive measures to reduce the potential for CAIs in these so-called high-touch environments. A recent study published in the American Journal of Infection Control points to one potential tool in this fight.

The study, conducted over 16 months at the Grinnell College Athletic Center, found that the use of copper alloy materials in health clubs could significantly reduce bacteria concentrations on fitness equipment. Significantly fewer bacteria were found on equipment with copper alloy grips, such as kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells, grip attachments, low row attachments and lat pulldown attachments. The study was led by Shannon Hinsa-Leasure, associate professor of biology at Grinnell, who explained that grip surfaces in athletic centers present an ideal environment for microbes to persist and spread. "We have shown that copper alloy grips reduce bacterial numbers by 94 percent over control grips and thereby limit the spread of infectious microbes by reducing exposure to athletes."

While copper compounds have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, the Environmental Protection Agency has just recently recognized copper alloys as having antimicrobial effectiveness. During the Grinnell College study, machines, benches and bars were wiped down with antibacterial wipes, and users were encouraged to wipe down equipment, which is the center's typical protocol. A daily cleaning was performed every morning, and high-touch areas were cleaned during business hours or right after closing.

Hinsa-Leasure says they demonstrated that copper alloys excel at reducing bacteria in the athletic center environment at rates similar to those found in hospital settings. "And we found the most common type of bacteria on these surfaces is Staphylococcus. In this high-traffic environment with students, faculty and staff from all over the world utilizing the same equipment, installing copper alloy grips is a simple way to enhance the cleaning protocol of our athletic center."

MRSA and other pathogens can survive for months on surfaces, and can be a continuous source of transmission. Therefore, implementation of infection control strategies at athletic facilities, such as the use of copper alloys in combination with disinfecting procedures, should be considered to help reduce the spread of CAIs.


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