The recent death of David Goldberg, the CEO of SurveyMonkey and husband of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, has raised concerns about the safety of exercise equipment such as treadmills. Goldberg was found in a gym, lying by a treadmill and bleeding severely from the back of his head. It is believed he slipped on the treadmill and hit his head resulting in loss of blood and head trauma. Goldberg was vacationing in Mexico with family at the time of the accident.
Though other factors might have contributed to Goldberg’s death, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) treadmills cause about 24,000 injuries a year (nearly 40 percent of the 62,600 injuries from exercise equipment), with approximately 30 deaths over the last decade, most notably the daughter of former boxing champ Mike Tyson, who died in 2009 after she got tangled in a treadmill’s electric cord. Despite the statistics, it should not deter people from using treadmills. Such devices are far more likely to improve one’s health than harm it. That said, Goldberg’s tragic death can be an important reminder to follow some basic safety tips when using these popular machines.
- Before you start a workout, always make sure you have a clean bill of health.
- Don’t stand on the belt when you press the “On” button. Straddle it, then step on the moving belt on a slow setting.
- Always use the safety key. Clip it to your clothing so that if you fall, the treadmill will stop.
- Stay near the front of the treadmill belt.
- Don’t jump off the treadmill while it’s still running. Experts say that most accidents occur while people try to jump or step off from a moving treadmill.
- While running, don’t look down. Experts say you can easily lose your balance when you look down while moving.
- Keep the pace and stay in control. Treadmills are meant for moderate exercise; faster isn’t better.
- Distractions like watching TV, reading, texting, or talking on the phone while running increase the likelihood of an injury.
- Avoid overexertion. If you feel dizzy, lightheaded or just not at your best, don’t use the treadmill. It’s always best to err on the side of caution.
- Don’t let children or pets play on or with a treadmill.
- Wear proper footwear and avoiding loose clothing.
- If you have a treadmill in your home, leave ample space around it. Some of the most dangerous treadmill accidents involve people who lose their footing and end up pinned between a wall and the machine. Clearance requirements vary by machine, so always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Bottom line, like driving a car or anything else, don’t take safety as a given. And remember, the benefits of exercise far outweigh the risks.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.