Air quality in a home gym is more important than most people think. The humidity, temperature and pollution can all play a big role in our health and the quality of workout we can actually get in our home gyms.
Opening a door or window is enough to regulate the temperature and humidity in most home gyms. However, if the outdoor conditions don’t allow this, a fan, A/C, Dehumidifier, Air filter and/or some well-chosen plants can keep the air quality and climate in a home gym under control.
Read more about why you should care and what to do exactly below.
Why care about home gym quality?
It might not be something you think about when building a home gym but the air quality is something that’s pretty important. Air quality isn’t only the levels of dust and chemicals but also the temperature and humidity.
The quality of the air in a home gym can deteriorate pretty quickly when working out in it. You breathe a lot, stir up dust, sweat and who knows what else you do in there. All those things going on can make the air less healthy to breathe in and just less comfortable all round.
Sure, working up a sweat is a good thing but nobody likes working out in a dusty sauna. The air quality in a gym can be pretty bad sometimes just because we’re breathing deep and often while moving things around. This can stir up dust that had already settled down and then we breathe it in. Not fun.
Living in a place where the pollution is bad can make this even worse if we don’t do something about it. And finally the humidity can not only be uncomfortable when it gets too high but can even cause rust on your gym equipment. Gym equipment is expensive so just letting it rust away is not something most people just want to let happen.
How to improve air quality in a home gym
Improving the air quality and the climate aren’t exactly the same thing although they are closely related and one solution can do both things.
- Clean regularly
- Open a window/door
- HEPA filter
- Forced ventilation
Air quality consists of different factors. Some of those factors are VOC’s or chemicals swirling around but a lot of it is also dust and other particles. Especially the very tiny ones are quite detrimental to the quality of the air. How those particles get into your gym doesn’t really matter. Maybe they’re produced inside because you’re drilling into the wall or sanding a piece of wood. Dust can also come from outside depending on the area you live in.
That dust will get into the air but after a while, it settles down. However, because it’s so small, these particles are easily agitated and start flying around again for you to breathe in. Working out in a space will certainly do that and then you’re breathing deep which doesn’t help matters.
Cleaning regularly will dramatically reduce the amount of dust in any space but in a gym it’s even more important because you’ll breathe more of it in.
Open a window/door
Of course if you have clean outdoor air, just opening a window or door that let’s in some of that fresh air is going to make a dramatic difference.
It’s not always possible or a good idea though. If the outside temperature or humidity is too low/high you might want to leave the windows closed and use another solution. Also, if you live in a location where there is quite a bit of air pollution opening a window might just make things worse.
A HEPA filter is an air filter that filters out not only dust but also all kinds of chemicals and allergens. If you live in a location where there is serious pollution to the point you don’t want to open the window, a HEPA filter is a great solution to cleaning indoor air to cleaner than what it’s like outside.
It’s also great for if you have allergies. The HEPA filter filters out pollen and other allergens so it will make your workout a lot more comfortable. Of course regular cleaning is still necessary even if you’ve got an air filter.
An open window or door isn’t always a good option. It leaves things open for less than honest people that want to take your stuff without paying for it. Nobody likes that. Some kind of forced ventilation does pretty much the same thing as opening a window without creating that glaring opening.
A simple exhaust fan will pull out air from your space and that air has to be replaced from somewhere else. This can be the gaps around the door or windows or other gaps. However, if you have a very well insulated home gym, an intake fan can help you replace the air inside much faster and better.
Usually they are pretty easy to install and many garages and basements already have one.
Ventilating after workouts is very important since that’s when the humidity is likely the highest. Even though you might think you’ve wiped off all the sweat, there probably is still some lingering around, most of it in the air itself. Getting it out doesn’t only lower the humidity but also improves the smells and prevents nasty things from growing.
Some plants are great at absorbing VOC’s from the air. Plants aren’t very common in gyms but it’s a home gym, you can do whatever you want in it. Home gyms often don’t have a lot of sunlight so you want plants that are going to do well in low light conditions.
Plants that do well in a bedroom are generally good for home gyms as well. Click here to find out which plants work well. Plants will require some more maintenance and care than an air filter but if you pick the right ones it’s not too much.
How to improve the climate in a home gym
The climate is the temperature and humidity. While air quality is a problem pretty much everywhere, climate isn’t much of an issue in many places because the outdoor temperatures and humidity is nice enough that just opening a window will be plenty to get it back to comfortable. Don’t forget to open that window though.
However, in other places either the humidity, temperature or both are too far outside of the comfortable range to fix your issues by opening a window. The problem is that places where a home gym is built, often aren’t hooked up to the house’s HVAC system so you can’t just turn a knob to change the temperature. In that case, here are a few things you can do;
- Space heater
To fend off overheating, a fan is the cheapest and easiest way to do it. A fan doesn’t actually change the temperature or humidity in a room but the wind chill can make you feel more comfortable by evaporating sweat faster.
You can use a fan to push fresh air into your gym if there is another space where the climate is better but it’s also possible to use it to just use the wind chill to cool down. Any fan will help, just pick one that works best for your situation. A ceiling fan, wall mounted fan or floor standing fan can all help.
A ceiling fan produces a more diffuse airflow that moves air in the whole space. Good for circulating air but you won’t get as much of a cooling effect because the air moves a bit slower. A floor or wall mounted fan will produce a more focused column of air.
Of course if a fan is not enough, A/C is the obvious next step. It’s more expensive to run and more difficult to install than a fan but A/C is very effective at creating a comfortable climate in any space and a home gym is no exception. A split unit A/C is not too difficult but will still have to be installed the right way to get the best results.
The benefit of A/C is that it tackles temperature and humidity at the same time. So if both things are a problem, A/C is going to be the best solution. Hooking your home gym into the HVAC system is even better but it depends on your house how expensive/difficult this is.
An air conditioner has a filter but that doesn’t do too much for your air quality. If temperature and dust/pollutants are both a problem, adding a separate HEPA filter (or finding A/C unit with HEPA filter) will make a huge difference.
The A/C also dehumidifies the air but not everybody can or wants to install an A/C unit. Or in colder climates it’s not necessary to have A/C but the humidity might be too high. A dehumidifier doesn’t require a lot of installation and is pretty cheap to run.
Since very high humidity can cause rust on your gym equipment, it’s a good idea to have something in place to keep it under control. A dehumidifier is just a little cabinet you plug into a wall outlet and turn it on. Pretty easy. You can leave a good model running for most of the day without problems. Just make sure you empty the water collection tray or have fixed drain installed.
High humidity can cause your equipment to rust. Find out what you can do to prevent this here.
Maybe the climate you live in is actually very cold and not hot. In that case, the humidity is a little less of an issue although you still want to keep it under control to prevent corrosion on your gym equipment.
. Too cold is relative but you want to be able to hold the equipment without freezing to it and you want your muscles to actually get up to temperature so you can work out effectively. If it’s actually freezing inside your home gym, it really should be warmed up a little because freezing your skin to a barbell is no fun. Sure, some workout gloves can help here and a longer warm-up can usually get you warm enough to get started but there are limits.
A space heater is a very effective way to heat up your home gym if it’s too cold. You’ll have to turn it on +-30 minutes before even starting your warm up because you don’t only want to bring the air temperature up but also all the surfaces you’re going to touch which take a lot longer to warm up than just the air.
Of course a lot of temperature issues can be solved or at least reduced by improving the insulation of your gym. Keeping the heat out or in means you’ll have to do less cooling or heating when wanting to use the gym.
Improving insulation can be a pretty involved and sometimes expensive thing to do but in the long run you’ll save quite a bit of money on heating/cooling. Even the rest of the house can benefit from a garage or basement being better insulated because those other rooms will lose less heat/cool to that space so it doesn’t only improve your gym.
Of course if the insulation is already OK, there is a point where there are diminishing returns.