The tragic death of SurveyMonkey chief executive Dave Goldberg, who died
after falling off a treadmill, has placed a spotlight on safe use of the
ubiquitous exercise machine.
Goldberg, whose wife is Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, died of head trauma
and blood loss in Mexico, where he'd he been vacationing with his
family and friends.
Treadmills are the most popular piece of exercise equipment in the United
States, but they also cause thousands of injuries each year. People who
have fallen from the fast-moving machines wind up in doctor's offices
and emergency departments, says
Steven Smith, MD
, an orthopedic surgeon with
Annadel Medical Group
in Santa Rosa.
"It's important to exercise to maintain your overall health. But
it's also important to make sure you're taking safety precautions
while you're exercising," Dr. Smith says. "Treadmills are
a great way to get your heart pumping and get in some cardio but they
actually cause tens of thousands of injuries each year. There's also
a lot more to distract us now –including iPhones, iPods, fitness
trackers and other technological devices."
Follow Dr. Smith's tips for safely exercising on a treadmill:
Look straight ahead. Looking at your feet as you run or walk quickly can make you lose your
balance and that can lead to a fall. Don't look down or off to the
Use the safety key.
It's there for a reason. One end plugs into the treadmill; the other
end clips onto your clothes. The key will pop out of the console if you
fall and the treadmill will stop.
Don't start on the belt. It's safer to put your feet on the deck and allow the belt to start
slowly moving before you step on. Starting the treadmill while you're
standing on the belt could surprise you and knock you off balance.
Don't overdo it. Yes, you want to work up a good sweat but you should also know your limits.
If you feel dizzy, have chest pain, numbness or other symptoms, stop the
treadmill and talk to your doctor. If you haven't worked out in a
long time or have medical issues, talk to your doctor before starting
an exercise program.
Stop it first, and then get off. Don't be tempted to lower the pace of the machine and hop off. Getting
off a treadmill before it stops can lead to injury.
Keep children away. Children, particularly those younger than 6, are injured more than anyone
in any other age group. Children can also accidentally turn the machine
on. Remove the safety key and keep it out of reach when you're not
using the treadmill. Also, watch for electrical wires and chords hanging
from the control panel. It's best to keep children away from the treadmill
For more information about Annadel Medical Group, please
click here. For more information about Dr. Smith, please
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.