Background Fitness facilities provide an important avenue for people to increase their physical activity; however they can also be a common context of injury. The only source of routinely collected data about injuries associated with fitness activities is the Victorian Emergency Minimum Dataset as used by the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit. This includes injury presentations to all public Victorian emergency rooms with a 24-hour service. Each case is accompanied by a 250-character narrative that provides further details surrounding the circumstances of the injury.
Objective To determine the main causes of injury associated with fitness activities.
Design Analysis of emergency department case narratives from 2002/03 to 2011/12.
Participants 1 979 de-identified injured persons who presented to included Victorian emergency departments.
Main outcome measurements Textual analysis and summary of the narratives to identify specific causes of injuries sustained in fitness facilities to lead potential injury prevention efforts.
Results The leading cause of injury depended on the type of activity being participated in (i.e. resistance training, aerobics/group exercise and use of other equipment). Across all fitness activities, the leading specified cause of injury was hit/struck/crush (50.9%) however this was largely driven by the high proportion of resistance training hit/struck/crush injuries (82.6% of all resistance training injuries). Falls were the leading specified cause of injury for aerobics and other equipment (62.4% and 63.2%, respectively). Most cases were not severe, with only 7.5% subsequently admitted to hospital.
Conclusion: Injury prevention efforts should be specific to particular activities commonly participated in at fitness facilities, as the specific causes of injuries vary across these.