No doctor will ever deny the importance of physical fitness. Institutions like the World Health Organization recommend more adults get at least 150 – 300 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week. As more people live sedentary lifestyles, fitness has never been as crucial for health & wellness.
However, there are unique risk factors associated with every form of exercise, especially contact sports. According to John Hopkins University, roughly 3.5 million American children under 14 get sports-related injuries each year. Although death is rare in these cases, at least 21 percent of players will suffer a brain injury.
Every form of physical activity has potential hazards, but a few have higher-than-average risk profiles. Thankfully, there’s a great deal of data on the associated risks with high-profile sports and exercise programs. Knowing this data—as well as the most common preventative measures—could help athletes stay “in the game” without harming themselves.
The Top Sports Injury Stats — Preventative Steps That Could “Step Up” Your Safety
Feeling Secure While Cycling — Safety Tips For Bicycle Enthusiasts
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), bicyclists have the highest rate of injuries for any exercise-related activity. According to 2020 findings, there are 425,910 bicyclist injuries per year in the USA. Most of these injuries were between the ages of 5 – 14 or 25 – 64.
Although bicyclist fatalities were declining between 1975 to 2010, III researchers noticed an uptick in cyclist deaths in recent years. Indeed, between 2010 and 2019, cyclist fatalities have gone up by about 36 percent. According to the IIHS’s figures, that’s roughly 2 percent of all traffic fatalities.
Although America’s car-centric road infrastructure contributes to these figures, there are ways bicyclists could prevent significant injuries. For instance, most organizations like the CDC urge cyclists to wear helmets.
Not every state requires bicyclists to wear helmets, but most have some age restrictions in place. Also, many studies suggest helmets could significantly reduce the risk of death or severe injuries in the event of a crash.
For example, a 2018 study from the Czech Republic examined cyclist fatality figures and helmet use. According to researchers, helmets could have saved 37 percent of crash victims.
Data from the University of Washington also suggests helmets could save many bicyclists’ lives. Scientists claim wearing helmets could reduce a cyclist’s risk of facial injuries by at least 65 percent.
In addition to wearing a DOT-approved helmet, most safety experts agree reflective clothing can prevent late-night crashes. Indeed, research from Australia discovered cyclists who wore a reflective vest and put reflectors on their bikes had a 90 percent visibility rate.
By contrast, those that only wore black clothing had a 2 percent score. Interestingly, cyclists who only had a fluorescent vest on had a low visibility rating of 15 percent.
Although cycling is one of the most accident-prone activities, preventative strategies like reflective gear and helmets can reduce a person’s risk of injury.
Conscious Of Concussion Risk — What Young Athletes Need To Know
Concussions have become a hot-button issue in many school-related sports. Some studies now suggest about 8.9 percent of total high school sports injuries are concussion-related. As for college sports, concussions represent 5.8 percent of injuries. It’s more likely concussions will occur in high-contact sports like football, rugby, and hockey.
The CDC suggests at least 15 percent of all student athletes will sustain one concussion in their career. Statisticians claim students who play for multiple teams are more likely to suffer head trauma. That translates to between 1.6 – 3.8 million concussions amongst school-age children every year.
The first “line of defense” in addressing concussions is to speak with athletes about the risks of this condition. The CDC recommends coaches inform players of the warning signs of a concussion. In descending order, the most common symptoms related to concussions are as follows:
- Difficulty concentrating
- General confusion
- Visual distortions
- Nausea and vomiting
The CDC also recommends coaches strictly enforce rules against illegal contact. Indeed, CDC researchers found that 25 percent of concussion cases were related to illegal plays.
However, even if players are aware of concussion risks, there’s a high chance they will try to mask the symptoms. CDC data suggests seven out of ten athletes don’t tell their coach about potential concussion issues.
Students should always feel encouraged to leave a sport if they feel concussion symptoms. The faster athletes can get care, the greater chance they won’t suffer serious traumatic brain injuries.
Also, coaches and parents should remind students helmets are not “concussion-proof.” Although high-quality headgear can reduce the risk of skull fractures, it doesn’t make a person invulnerable to concussions.
Be Extra Aware On ATVs!
ATVs and mopeds represent the third most injury-prone sport according to the III. According to 2020 data, at least 229,974 ATV riders sustained a significant injury. The III also claims that roughly half of these victims were between 25 – 64.
Nemours researchers claim scrapes, cuts, and broken collarbones are amongst the most common injuries related to ATV riding. Doctors have also seen ATV patients with head or neck strain, broken limbs, or abdominal complications.
Like bicycling, the top professional safety tip related to ATVs is to wear a well-fitting helmet. Researchers at the University of Arkansas tracked the effect helmets had on an ATV rider’s risk of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Across every metric, ATV riders who weren’t wearing helmets had a higher chance for serious or fatal TBIs.
In addition to wearing protective gear, Nemours reminds ATV riders to only ride during the daytime, refrain from intoxicating substances, and never put another passenger on their vehicle.
The Dangers Of At-Home Exercise Equipment
Recent surveys suggest more Americans are working out indoors. Indeed, data taken by SWNS and OnePoll suggests three in four Americans will continue exercising at home even after the COVID-19 pandemic. Roughly 60 percent of Americans also claim they’d prefer a mix of working out at home and a gym.
Since indoor workouts are more controlled, they may seem to be less injury-prone. However, the III reports they were the second leading cause of sports injuries in 2020 at 377,939. Most of these cases were between the ages of 25 – 64.
Recent estimates suggest treadmills are responsible for at least two-thirds of mechanical-related exercise injuries. Roughly three adults die on treadmills each year, and injuries to the knees, ankles, and skin are common.
Data from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital also suggests more children are getting injured on exercise devices. From 1990 through 2008, the number of children hurt on one of these devices grew by over 41 percent. The most-reported injuries included laceration, head trauma, and hand injuries.
Families who have exercise equipment must keep their dedicated gym room locked with protective gates. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia also recommends unplugging devices like treadmills when parents aren’t using them.
As for preventing injuries while on devices, many studies suggest a warm-up can reduce an athlete’s risk for injuries. Meta-data from Monash University found that warm-up exercises seem to have a preventative effect. Even more interesting, Monash researchers said warm-ups could increase athletic performance by close to 80 percent.
However, before investing in exercise machines, patients should speak with their doctor before using gym equipment. Physicians may recommend different activities at specific intensities depending on a patient’s health profile. When in doubt, it’s best to work with a qualified personal trainer to avoid serious injuries.
Please Watch Out While Working Out!
Whether you’re playing on a team or exercising solo, there’s always a risk for injuries. However, living a sedentary lifestyle poses many health challenges. Indeed, the World Health Organization suggests a sedentary lifestyle could double a person’s risk for developing heart issues or diabetes.
While exercising is great for long-term health, people should research the most common injuries related to their preferred sport. Knowing the latest stats and prevention techniques can ensure everyone enjoys the benefits of exercise without ending up in the ER.