every travelerís worst nightmare.
someone you are traveling with gets hurt or dies on vacation. An
added twist is when the injury occurs while you are trying to
keep yourself healthy by exercising.
times have you been the only one at a hotel gym? How long would
it take for someone to find you if you suffered a debilitating
injury? What about your teen athlete using the unfamiliar
are trying to stay healthy and think exercise on vacation is a
good thingÖyou have to realize you are operating a machine and
if you get distracted, you can really injure yourself,"
said Dr. Monica Vavilala, director of the Harborview Injury
Prevention and Research Center at the University of Washington
and the lead author on a study that looked at exercise machine
related injuries. Treadmills, the study reported, accounted for
66 per cent of injuries that sent people to the emergency room.
well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneur Dave Goldberg, 47, the
husband of Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg,
died while on vacation in Mexico after a freak treadmill
accident. Goldberg appeared to have fallen and hit his head,
Mexican authorities said. After he was found, he was taken to a
hospital where he died of head trauma and blood loss.
were staying with friends and family at a posh villa in the
gated community of Punta Mita, north of Puerto Vallarta, that is
also home to the St. Regis and Four Seasons Resorts. Even in a
dream vacation spot, youíre not immune from such accidents,
Dr. Vavilala said, adding that should you get injured abroad,
remote locations "may make sophisticated care
Goldberg died from a treadmill accident is not unheard of ó
there were 30 deaths associated with treadmills in the 10 years
up through 2012, about three a year, according to the U.S.
Consumer Product Safety Commission.
got hurt using exercise equipment is much more common: Such
injuries landed 62,600 people in the emergency room in the
United States last year, according to the CPSC. Treadmills are
responsible for more injuries last year ó 24,400 ó than any
other piece of exercise equipment.
also at great risk, said Dr. Janessa Graves, a Washington State
University nursing professor who was also part of the team that
studied exercise machine related injuries. In fact, said Dr.
Graves, "Kids are at much greater risk." They end up
in the ER 2.5 times more often from exercise machine injuries
than adults, she said.
Parents get distracted. Kids get on a running machine and fall
or get hand lacerations. "Donít bring your kids with you
to the hotel gym," she cautioned. If you are at a rental
home, "donít use exercise machines around your kidsÖ
Kids and (exercise equipment) do not make for a happy
consider that at a vacation destination, you are using
unfamiliar equipment and donít know how well it has been
maintained. Yet you are the one taking all the risk, said
Charles Martin Arnold, a New York personal injury attorney who
is an expert on insurance law. Under the law, any time you are
involved in an activity that involves exercise, you are assuming
the risk, he explained. The only difference might be if you can
prove there was a defect in the equipment. And even if that were
the case, it would be a tough case to win, he said.
something happens to you using exercise equipment, most likely
itís going to be your responsibility," Martin said.
"You have to be aware of your surroundings." Travel
insurance companies contacted declined comment on whether your
travel insurance would cover you in the event of an
exercise-related injury. Check with your provider if exercise
figures in your vacation plan.
a lot more people are exercising on vacation ó 18 per cent of
those surveyed for the soon-to-be-released Portrait of American
Travelers said they are exercising more on vacation than
remember, many hotel gyms arenít staffed; nor can you be
certain of the quality of the equipment. Ask how the machines
are maintained. Is there a safety feature that turns a treadmill
off if you fall? Most hotel groups I called didnít want to
comment. Some said standards and protocols vary from property to
property. Maybe one fitness center is staffed part of the day
while another is entirely self service.
resorts, with a million guests a year, keeps its fitness centers
open 24 hours a day, but the facilities arenít monitored
continuously, particularly after 6 p.m., a Sandals spokesman
said, adding theyíve never had a serious fitness-related
made me wonder about what would happen if someone choosing to
work out at an odd time got injured. All the more reason to
exercise with a buddy or have someone check up on you
periodically, suggested Dr. Vavilala, adding that no matter what
your workout routine is at home, itís smarter to hit the gym
when there are others exercising.
important, donít let yourself get distracted. "Donít
read your texts or answer emails while you are exercising,"
If you are
going for a run in unfamiliar climes, carry your phone and make
sure someone knows your route should you become incapacitated.
I know no
one wants to think of such things on vacation but as Goldbergís
accident showed all of us, we have to.