The Hidden Danger of Treadmills

Can exercise be dangerous?

In general, hitting the gym is a great thing. Working out helps people lose weight or build muscle, and an active lifestyle contributes to better overall health. Along with weights, ellipticals, and stair-steppers, the treadmill is a great option for indoor exercise. A treadmill is a machine with a continuously running belt, which allows someone to run, jog, or walk in place. The speed and incline is changeable, depending on how much of a workout someone wants to get. In hot states like Florida, treadmills are a great alternative to running outside.

But for all their advantages, treadmills can be dangerous, too. Between 2003 and 2012, 36 people died in treadmill related accidents. Falls are a common reason for treadmill injuries and deaths, but other deaths are attributed to heart attacks or other medical emergencies that occurr while exercising. In 2015, the death of David Goldberg, the husband of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, brought attention to treadmills deaths. He was exercising on a treadmill when he fell off the device, and suffered from a traumatic brain injury and hypovolemic shock.

Some treadmill accidents are the result of human error. Common human causes of treadmill accidents include:

  • Not paying attention while using a treadmill
  • Trying to get off the machine while it is still moving
  • Misjudging the speed of the treadmill
  • Horseplay on treadmills, or trying movements other than running or walking
  • Not understanding how to work the treadmill

Safety First

To save lives in the event of human error, treadmills are equipped with a safety key. This can be attached to a person’s clothes. If someone falls, the safety key will alert the machine, safely stopping it. To prevent injury, treadmill users should stand on the sides of the belt while starting or stopping the treadmill, and should always pay attention to the speed and incline, setting it to what suits them best. If someone has a heart problem or other medical condition, they should always take that into account when working out.

Of course, other accidents are the result of product defects. An improperly manufactured belt, safety key, or other feature might lead to injury. In the event of an accident, it’s important to look at all factors. If the events surrounding an accident seem unusual, it’s best to further investigate, and not immediately place the blame on human error.

When working out, focus on fitness, but remember to always think about your personal safety, too.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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