Few gym-goers realize how wicked their workout breath smells to other exercisers.

Yes, you read that right: Before stepping foot into your health club or gym, you should thoroughly brush your teeth.

After all, you’re going to be huffing and puffing and breathing heavily near other people. How could they not smell whatever gets exhaled from your mouth?

A better question is how come so few people think about this?

One day I was at the gym pedaling a stationary bike, and with almost every inhalation, I suffered the stench of someone’s breath.

But oddly, nobody was really near me at all. I suspected a woman across the aisle on a bike, but at some point, she left, and I still smelled the odor.

I ruled out the man ahead of me on the elliptical, because he didn’t seem close enough. The woman on my left, several bikes down, eventually left also.

So that left only one person, a man several machines behind me. But he, too, didn’t seem close enough.

But never underestimate the pervasiveness of human bad breath.


A person with bad breath can actually create a zone of his or her breath that’s a good 10 or 12 foot radius around their body.

But both these men were more than 12 feet from me, and I highly doubted that I could pick up someone’s bad breath whose back was facing me.

Thus, I finally concluded that the culprit was the man behind me…about 25 feet behind me.

I figured that if he was breathing hard enough, it was very possible that I was getting wafts of his breath.

Whom else could it have been? Well, one thing was for sure: SOMEONE had bad breath. SOMEONE didn’t brush their teeth before going to the club. Phooey!

The man eventually left, and so did the odor!

It takes only five minutes before going to the gym to brush your teeth.

Don’t Let Your Breath Stink up the Gym

Even if you’re coming from the workplace, bring with you a toothbrush and toothpaste (keep those always in your gym bag if you have a gym bag) and brush your teeth and mouth at the gym.

Chances are, if you haven’t brushed your teeth for a while, you are going to stink up the air within a 10 foot radius of your body.

“Unfortunately, bad breath (halitosis) can occur at any location, including the gym!” says Marco L. Tironi, DDS, who practices dentistry in Rochester, MI.

The gym workout itself doesn’t directly cause bad breath. A brutal set of deadlifts won’t make your breath stink any more than will a light warmup on a stationary bike.

But a knockout set will leave you huffing and puffing – blowing your smelly breath into the air around other people.

Reasons for Bad Breath at the Gym or Anywhere Else

“Bactera: Bad breath-causing bacteria naturally live in our mouths,” says Dr. Tironi. “When we eat, the bacteria feed on the food left behind in our mouths and give off a foul smelling byproduct.

“Gum disease: Gum disease, which is caused by bacteria, not only is a cause for concern for the long-term health of your gums and mouth, it also causes bad breath.

“Types of food: The type of food you eat affects the air you exhale, even if there aren’t remnants of the food remaining in your mouth.

“Medical conditions: Several other medical conditions can cause bad breath including gastric reflux, diabetes, liver/kidney disease, sinus conditions.

“Dry mouth: If you aren’t producing enough saliva, you may not be able to adequately wash your mouth out. This can lead to bad breath and a higher chance of developing cavities and gum disease.”

It happens all the time.

I’ll be walking past a man who’s on a piece of equipment or one who’s between sets, even, and suddenly, BAM, I get nearly knocked over by a waft of his breath.

Women, too, can have bad breath at the gym.

No matter how hard you work out, there’s just no excuse for this.

Please, everyone who steps into a gym — brush your teeth first!

A member of the Academy of General Dentistry, Dr. Tironi is trained in sedation dentistry, dental implantology, orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 


Top image: Shutterstock/wavebreakmedia