Are your lights up for the challenge?

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Based on a recent evaluation of claims in Markel’s martial arts programs, it is important to address the importance of effective lighting. Most important, when guests or students are on your premises, your facility should be illuminated to support their ability to see where they are going and what they are doing.  While there may be training philosophies associated with low-light and dark environments, turning off the lights to play games can often lead to accidents and is discouraged.

What does effective indoor lighting look like for gyms? According to the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) Health/Fitness Facility Standards and Guidelines: for tasks requiring visibility for moving about, avoiding people and furniture and negotiating standard stairs, a light level of 5-10 foot-candles is appropriate. A foot candle is defined as a unit of illuminance or illumination, equivalent to the illumination produced by a source of one candle at a distance of one foot and equal to one lumen incident per square foot. For sports activities the 30 – 50 light level (FC) is the general guideline. This is general lighting with sufficient number of fixtures to provide even court or table illumination.

For fitness floors, gymnasiums and exercise rooms, the ACSM outlines that the level of illumination should be at least 50 foot-candles at the floor surface.

Outdoor security lighting

Also keep in mind that parking lots and entrance ways should be well lit so visitors can see where they are going to avoid hazards. Make it a practice to inspect for and replace burned out bulbs as soon as they are observed or put your landlord on notice so they can take corrective actions to prevent potential accidents.

If you are wondering if your lights are up to the challenge, consult a professional electrician for guidance. To help with security lighting questions, you can access Tips for effective security lighting through Markel’s Loss Control resource library.



  • Peterson, PhD. James A. and Tharrett. Stephen. ACSM’s Health/Fitness Facility Standards and Guidelines, Second Edition.Human Kinetics. Dallas, TX.1997
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