If you are like most people with a home gym, it is highly likely that your equipment is tucked into some unused corner of garage or basement. This can be a big problem because when working out in such spaces, you may be exposing yourself to dangerous pollutants and pests as well other hazards that pose a threat to your health. That’s why you need to know How to Improve Your Home Gym Air Quality
Why garage or basement air quality plays a crucial role in the health of your home
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Since most home gyms are located in the basement or garage, we can’t emphasize enough why it is important to keep the quality of air in these spaces clean. In addition, about 40% of the air we breathe upstairs comes from the basement. Known as the “stack effect”, the air in your home is constantly rising to the roof thus creating a pulling effect or draw on the air in the basement. This draw or pull is how the air in your basement affects the air quality on the upper levels of your home.
This also poses a real danger if your work out space is in the same space because when you’re exercising in your basement the 100% of the air you breathe comes from there. If you consider the impact of stack effect and then combine it with the increased breathing that comes when one is working out, the quality of air in your basement becomes something that you need to take very seriously.
The most common threats that you may encounter at your home gym
When setting up the home gym, we often put a lot of effort into choosing every detail of the equipment we want in the space and how we want it to look. We stress too much over accessories, machines, weights, racks, benches and more often forgetting the single most important thing, air quality.
Bacteria, allergens, pests, molds, humidity, temperature and fumes often have a great impact on our general health and performance. If your workout routine is intense chances are that you breathe quite heavily which amplifies the risk of being affected by these impurities in your air.
By overlooking the quality of air in your gym as well as air circulation and ventilation you will be risking more than just accumulated dust or a musty smell. Through this, we are risking the very health we are trying to improve by being there in the first place. So, is your home gym the place you actually built to improve your health the very thing that is actually making you sick? Here are some of the most common threats that you may come across in your gym and how to deal with them.
Radon is radioactive gas that is invincible, it occurs naturally in the ground when uranium breaks down in a process which takes a millennium. According to studies, exposure to radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. While this gas is everywhere, the real danger exists when massive concentrations of this gas builds up in spaces that have poor ventilation or are located below ground level such as your basement.
Add this the fact that your breathing becomes heavier when working out meaning you are taking in more air into your system creating a recipe for disaster.
You need to have your place tested as this is the only way to know if you’re at risk. Even if you hear that your neighborhood is at low-risk for radon and your neighbor tested positive for it, don’t assume that your house is safe. Make sure that you get it checked too as soon as possible. You can either check for radon for yourself by picking a mail-kit from your local hardware store or hire the services of a radon inspector to come and check your home. In the event that your test turns up reading dangerous levels, you will be required to pay to have a system installed that will remove the gas from the air.
Threat: Mold and Fungus
Fungi and mold love environments that are rich in moisture. These two compounds are responsible for causing a variety of breathing problems including infections, headaches, and stuffiness among others.
If you want to know if you have mold in your basement or garage just trust your nose. Generally, if these places smell funky with a distinct dank odor that you don’t notice anywhere else in your house then you probably have mold. Similarly, you may also be able to see it in corners, under carpeting or on pipes.
If you are sure that the mold is only in one spot of your basement then you can clean it off yourself using soap and water, bleach is not necessary here. However, keep in mind that disturbing the mold can release spores into the air thus triggering the health issues mentioned above especially if you are allergic to mold.
If you are unsure of the amount of mold growing in your basement ensure you call in a professional to check it out and also help you remove it. After you have resolved your problem, make sure that you keep your basement well ventilated and the humidity low to stop mold from growing back and spreading to other parts of your house.
Threat: Fossil fuel fumes
Most people keep a lot of their chemicals in their garage, this may include oil for your car or gas for your lawnmower. If you are one of these people and you can actually smell these fumes then you may be at risk of very serious health issues.
Short term effect for exposure to fossil fuel fumes may include irritation in your eyes, throat or nose or feeling light-headed or dizzy. On the other hand, long term effects may cause blood or bone marrow disorders as well as cancer.
Ensure that you keep an airtight cap or lid in your chemical containers. Also, remember to always open your doors and windows to help the fumes disperse. Lastly, keeping your car in the same space as workout equipment is generally not a good idea.
Threat: Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
VOC compounds are contained in cleaning supplies, lacquers, paints among other types of home-improvement products. The VOC compounds found in these products usually escape in the form of gas. Now, if you are like most people, chances are that you keep some of these materials stacked in one area of your basement or garage. In turn, what this does is concentrate their emission thus putting you more at risk.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, VOC gases causes long term damage to your central nervous system, kidneys, and liver as well as cause lung, throat, nose and eye irritation.
You need to move all these products from all the places you will be hanging out especially your home gym and put them into well-ventilated areas. Also, ensure that they are sealed or capped tightly in order to prevent exposure.
Basements and garages tend to be very warm and humid places, especially in summer. This, in turn, creates ideal breeding grounds for germs and pests. Small bugs such as cockroaches spread illness-causing bacteria such as salmonella as well as carry antigens that cause asthma attacks. Other common pests that can be found in humid places are dust termites, just like roaches they also cause respiratory problems. They also infest your eyelashes.
Try and improve ventilation in your space window ventilation fans or exhaust systems. You can also get a dehumidifier to suck the moisture out of your air. This will make your workout space less hospitable for pests. Your target is to lower the humidity below 50%.
Three things to do when designing a practical home gym
If you are thinking of creating a home gym, the first thing you need to do is create a plan that will help you design a practical working out environment. First and foremost, your home gym ought to be comfortable and safe for use before even deciding what equipment to buy. Here are some of the things you should do to ensure that the space you use for exercising is conducive.
The basement for most people is the ideal spare room that if properly remodeled can turn into a wonderful home gym. Unfortunately, the basement has one major problem which is excess humidity. You can get rid of the humidity in your basement by using a dehumidifier unit that adjusts the air humidity level to a point that you know it will neither endanger your health nor ruin the aspect of your home gym.
Remember that high humidity encourages the development of mold as well as other dangerous bacteria. These can be dangerous more so when you’re working out. During vigorous exercise, you are forcing your lungs to work harder than usual. For this reason, exposing them to dangerous contaminants if even more dangerous when exercising that in normal everyday situations.
Therefore, if you are looking to build your own home gym, the first step you need to take is to solve the humidity problem in your basement.
Clean the air
Poor quality of air is one thing that can damage your health and if you want your home gym to succeed in helping you strengthens your health then you should avoid this. If you are having air quality problems invest in an air purifier and have it installed to absorb impurities and make your home gym a safer environment for fitness practice.
Cool the room
When working out, you will be sweating a lot and will feel hot. Therefore, you need to keep the temperature of your body low in order to stay away from heat exhaustion. Ensure that your home gym has a cooling fan such as a tower fan. This will help you to stay cool while working out, keep the air around you fresh and also create a pleasant ambiance.
Home gym ventilation
Home gym ventilation is very critical to clean air. If your basement contains an HVAC system that is functioning beyond its useful life and is likely working at an inefficient level then it is time to have a new one installed. A properly designed ventilation for your home gym is essential to your comfort and overall health as it provides the right balance of gases as well as ensures that the air you breathe does not contain too much carbon dioxide.
In addition to this, it also controls odors and extracts contaminants from occupied spaces. A proper ventilation system for your home gym promotes moisture control as well. As mentioned before, moisture creates the perfect breeding ground for pests and promote the growth of mold and fungi.
To ensure that the ventilation in your home gym is at its optimum, try installing blowers as well as air supply fans to improve air balance. It is also paramount that you install bacteria absorbing filters that are HEPA (High Energy Particulate Air filters) designed to trap even the smallest particle including smaller strains of pollen, mold, and bacteria. If your basement or garage has high humidity then consider getting a dehumidification system.
Keep in mind that insufficient oxygen in the air can have a suffocating effect which makes you feel tired more quickly thus leading to a disappointing workout. Seeing that high levels of carbon dioxide are particularly prevalent in smaller workout spaces that are enclosed such as your basement, it is critical that your gym ventilation works properly.
Remember, the reason you created a home gym was to improve your health or maintain it through exercise. Therefore, as a health-conscious individual, you should not overlook poor indoor air quality.
Other tips on how to improve your home gym air quality
Keep your floors fresh
If you are like most people, your home gym is probably situated at a dingy and dusty corner of your garage or basement making it a health hazard especially as a working out space. Here is how you can keep your floors clean.
Use a vacuum that has a HEPA filter to reduce the concentration of dust, lead, chemicals and other allergens in your home gym as well as the entire household. By vacuuming, you can also get rid of other toxins such as pollen, pet dander and hair, dust mites and mold as well as brominated fire-retardant chemicals.
Ensure that you use a vacuum cleaner with strong rotating brushes and suction as well as a HEPA filter so that the dirt and dust don’t get blown back out in the exhaust. Try and vacuum the same spot several times and the whole gym area as regular as you can. Also, don’t forget the walls and edges of your carpet if you have any because this is where dust accumulates.
Mop it up
Mopping is also essential because it helps you pick up the dust that vacuuming left behind. If you have already vacuumed you don’t need to use soap and cleaners to capture the lingering allergens or dust particles, you can just use plain water. Dust cloths, as well as new microfiber mops, reportedly capture more dirt and dust than traditional fibers. Therefore, they don’t need any cleaning solutions whatsoever because plain water will do the job well.
Keep the dirt and dust out
Put a large floor mat on the entrance of your home gym and here is the reason why. More often than not, we tend to track in all sorts of chemicals through the dirt on our shoes. A doormat is essential because it helps reduce the amount of dust, dirt, pesticides and other pollutants that you might bring into your home gym. Ensure that your mat is big enough such that even if people don’t wipe their shoes on it, they still end up leaving most pollutants there anyway.
Make your home gym a no-smoking zone
Second-hand cigarette smoke is probably the single most important aspect of indoor air pollution. This is because cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 harmful chemicals which have been linked to a plethora of respiratory ailments. Therefore, if you must smoke, ensure that you don’t do it anywhere near your working out area at home.
Let your home gym have a natural good smell
If you are a fan of synthetic fragrances then this information will break your heart a little. Fragrances found in air fresheners or cleaning products emit dozens of different chemicals into the air you breathe. However, you will not find them on the product labels. According to one study, a plug-in air freshener was found to emit about 20 VOCs, seven of which were regulated as hazardous or toxic under the US federal laws. Unfortunately, these chemicals were included in the label.
If you want your home gym to smell all nice and fresh without putting your health at risk then consider the following:
- Switching to mild cleaners that don’t contain artificial fragrances
- Letting in fresh air by opening the windows and doors to your home gym to ensure that toxic chemicals don’t build up in there
- Keeping your working out space properly ventilated with a filters air conditioning system especially if you are allergic to pollen, mold or dust
- Quit using aerosol sprays to freshen your home gym
- Start looking for naturally-scented or fragrance-free laundry products
- Use baking soda and sliced lemon to get a clean scent into your gym room
Consider adding a plant or two in the space you’re using as a home gym
The advantage of having plants in your home is that they act as nature’s own air filters. They take in the bad air and give out oxygen. You will be astonished by just how much the quality of air in your home gym can improve by simply adding a couple of plants.
In case you are not sure of what kind of plants you should get, both spider plants and ferns are known to be great at air filtration. In addition to this, they are low maintenance and very easy to care for. According to a study done by NASA, the best plant for air cleaning is English Ivy.
Air purifiers for gyms
Consider getting an air purifier for your home gym in order to keep yourself healthy and lively for longer when working out. For the smelly and stuffy air, you can use special carbonated filters whereas for the airborne mold spores or pollen and dust you can use HEPA air filters to catch them all.
Taking all this information into consideration here are some of the top air purifiers you can get for your home gym.
BluePure 211+ Air purifier
The BluePure 211+ Air purifier is a medium sized air purifying device which is a good option for people who want to spend a little bit more money. This air purifier filters a slightly bigger space. Additionally, it also has a plethora of positive reviews especially on how efficiently and quietly it operates. Here are some of its features:
- Activated carbon filter for removing odor such as sweat, mustiness and smells caused by animals
- Washable pre-filter
- HEPA filter which captures 99.97% of airborne pollutants
This device is designed for medium to slightly large rooms measuring between 400 square feet and 600 square feet
GermGuardian AC4825 3-in1 Air Purifier
The GermGuardian AC4825 3-in1 Air Purifier is an affordable device with thousands of positive customer reviews as well as an overall highly encouraging rating. Even though it is lightweight and fairly small, its filters a wide area for an air purifier of its size. This makes it an ideal choice for someone who is on a budget. Some of its features include:
- Charcoal filter for reducing odors in your home gym
- HEPA filter which captures 99.97% of allergens and dust
- UV-C light technology that works to eliminate mold spores, airborne bacteria, germs and viruses
This device is best for medium-sized rooms.
Rabbit Air Bio GS 2.0 Ultra Quiet HEPA Air Purifier
Having won several prestigious product awards, the Rabbit Air Bio GS 2.0 Ultra Quiet HEPA Air Purifier is a good option for your home gym even though it is a bit pricey. With thousands of positive customer reviews, here are some of its notable features:
- Energy efficiency
- HEPA filtration with 4 stages of purification
- Charcoal-based activated carbon filters for the removal of any unwanted home gym odor
- Washable pre-filter
- 5-year warranty
The Rabbit Air Bio GS 2.0 Ultra Quiet HEPA Air Purifier is designed for rooms measuring up to 550 square feet.
Now that you know the dangers of poor air quality in your home gym make sure you do something about it.