When you head to the gym for your workout, do you keep an eye out for the Automated External Defibrillator (AED)? Do you know if your health club even has one? You may be shocked to learn less than 20 states have laws requiring an AED at a gym or health club. Even though it may not be required by law, every gym needs to have an AED.

Regular exercise has incredible benefits such as lower blood pressure, increased strength, reduced inflammation, and more! But exercise can also trigger acute cardiac events. For those with underlying heart conditions, vigorous exercise increases the risk of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) and a heart attack (remember: not the same as SCA, although a heart attack can cause Sudden Cardiac Arrest).  

SCA is typically caused by a genetic heart abnormality that you are born with or develops over time. It can also be brought on from an illness, heart attack, heat stroke, etc. Usually there are no warning signs of Sudden Cardiac Arrest, so for someone with an unknown heart abnormality, a trip to the gym could turn deadly quickly.

AEDs are designed to detect and treat life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. These irregular rhythms disrupt the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively, leading to a loss of consciousness and, ultimately, death. When an AED is applied within the critical first few minutes of cardiac arrest, the chances of survival increase dramatically. Having an AED readily available in gyms can bridge this gap and potentially save lives. According to a study by the American College of Cardiology, “People experiencing sudden cardiac arrest at exercise facilities have a higher chance of survival than at other indoor locations, likely due to early CPR and access to an AED. The findings underscore the importance of having AEDs in places where people exert themselves and are at greater risk of sudden cardiac arrest.”

An AED is rendered useless without an empowered team to use it. There are an appalling number of lawsuits against gyms because AEDs were on site, but the team members failed to use it. If a gym patron suffers from Sudden Cardiac Arrest, it is imperative to their survival that bystanders act quickly and that they have the necessary equipment. Gyms need to have trained responders on site that know the cardiac emergency plan and are prepared to act.

The number of daily patrons, plus intense exercise makes the presence of AEDs in gyms not just a precautionary measure, but a life-saving investment. As cardiac events can occur at any time, starting CPR immediately plus the prompt application of an AED can make all the difference in saving a person’s life. By preparing facilities with cardiac emergency plans, gyms prioritize the safety and well-being of their members, creating an environment that inspires confidence and reassurance.

 Is your gym ready? Are YOU ready?