London - Going to the gym may not be as beneficial as you think because some fitness fans’ poor hygiene could leave you ill, according to a new survey.

Almost three-quarters (74 percent) of people polled by a British well-being company said they had witnessed “bad fitness etiquette” in the gym, including poor hygiene – like failing to clean sweaty equipment.

Almost half of those polled admitted using something in the gym that didn’t belong to them, including towels, water bottles or toiletries.

The company warned the behaviour could leave people open to catching colds and flu from other gym users, as well as fungal infections like athlete’s foot.

Sarah Marsh, the firm’s professional head of fitness and well-being, said: “Yes, it’s unpleasant when the person before you hasn’t wiped their sweat off the machine they’ve been using, but the health implications of this and the other hygiene issues our study revealed can be more wide-ranging than this.

“We encounter disease-causing germs every day, although generally few of us become ill. We know these germs may easily be spread by unwashed hands – through direct contact with someone or indirectly through touching contaminated objects.

“So, not wiping down gym equipment can help germs spread.”

These germs could cause not only vomiting and diarrhoea but also respiratory infections.

The survey of 2 000 people also found that 22 percent of potential gym-goers were put off exercise by poor hygiene or excessive nudity in changing rooms.

Eighteen percent of exercisers admitted going to the gym when suffering from colds, coughing and sneezing.

And more than a third admitted to exercising without deodorant or socks on, while 16 percent admitted not washing gym clothes between workouts. – Daily Mail