Home can be a great place for families to exercise together – especially when the clouds and rain make it difficult to get outside. However, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says more than 25,000 kids are injured by home exercise equipment every year. It is important for families to learn how to use home exercise equipment safely.
Treadmills are a top safety hazard. Children are fascinated by treadmills and want to imitate their parents by walking on them. On a moving treadmill, children can slip and fall, get clothing or hair caught in the belt or sustain burns from the moving belt.
Children younger than 10 should not use a treadmill. Children older than 10 should be watched closely while using a treadmill. When not in use, the activation key should be placed out of reach and the treadmill should be unplugged. If possible, the room where the treadmill is located should be locked.
Weightlifting equipment also can put children at risk for injury through misuse. Until children are preteens, they should use only body weight or resistance bands for strength training. Children do not have the understanding of their limits that is required for controlled weight training. This can lead to overuse or trauma injuries. A child also can easily get a hand caught in the pulleys of weight equipment.
To prevent weightlifting injuries, place weights in a locked cabinet or room so children do not have access to them. Instruct preteens and teens in proper weight training techniques. Parents should seek information through the school gym teacher, a fitness instructor or athletic trainer.
Other safety tips
In general, parents should not wear headphones while exercising to be more aware of the environment. This can help prevent children from sneaking up and getting hands caught in pedaling bicycles, treadmill belts or plates of weight-training equipment. Parents also should explain that exercise equipment is for adults only.
~ Stacy Stolzman, MPT, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin