The tragic death of David Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey, from a treadmill fall is shining a light on gym-related injuries and deaths. Should we stop using treadmills?

While it’s easy to say no, there’s a caveat. Gym safety. The number of deaths is rare. In fact, according to the United States Consumer Safety Commission, the number of deaths attributed to treadmills was 30 from 2003 to 2012.

For perspective, you’re more likely to killed by a lightning strike than on a treadmill. David Goldberg’s death is a horrible accident, but it is not indicative of something inherently unsafe with treadmills.

Exercise Injuries Per Year

In 2014, 24,400 injuries were connected to the use of a treadmill according to the commission. The figure includes only injuries serious enough to warrant a visit to emergency rooms across the United States. Including all exercise equipment? The figure was 62,700 in 2014. This includes injuries connected to weights, trampolines and swimming pools.

Most injuries were related to overuse, say a tendon strain from someone who thought they would go all out on the treadmill.

Treadmill Safety

While rare, falls do happen. I think we have all seen YouTube videos of people falling off treadmills. Today, we know it’s no laughing matter.

treadmill safety

How do you protect yourself against a fall? For one, realize a treadmill is vastly different from an elliptical machine or a stationary bike. It is powered by a motor, so we all need to know the equipment.

Don’t hop on and crank it to a level you cannot possibly sustain. Keep the treadmill at a pace that is comfortable.

Distractions. The digital age is a double-edged sword. We want to stay connected, but out smartphones and other devices pull us in different directions. Don’t run on the treadmill and start texting.

Your health. I know. This mantra gets old, but make sure you’re healthy enough for physical activity. Most falls are attributed to older people. Sudden bouts of exercise can also cause heart issues to finally pop to the surface. There’s some suggesting this could have happened to Mr. Goldberg – a sudden cardiac event that led to his fall and death.

None of this means stop exercising.

Rather, it means before you hit the gym, have a plan for the healthier you.


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