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Research In Action

exercise equipment safety
Keeping Kids Safe Around Home Exercise Equipment
April 6, 2021
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Like many others, I've transitioned from exercising at gyms to developing a DIY workout space at home in the past year. With gym closures and restrictions, the purchase and use of home exercise equipment has rocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. While riding an exercise bike or running on a treadmill at home is extremely convenient, those of us with young children have likely faced the challenge of keeping curious kids away from these potentially dangerous machines.

I've seen friends use safety gates around their equipment or lock doors to the rooms housing the equipment. Their fears are not unwarranted, as dangers from home exercise equipment recently made headlines after a child died trapped under a treadmill died. Previous studies have found the most common injuries sustained by children 4 and under are lacerations and soft tissue injuries. Stationary bicycles, treadmills, and jump ropes accounted for the majority of injuries in another study.

In addition, the dangers of exercise equipment are not limited to only infants and toddlers. In fact, the majority of injuries are sustained by children under age 10. Older children who try to use the machines without knowing fully how to do so safely can also be injured. 

Children under age 10 sustained the majority of injuries.

What Clinicians Can Do

Fortunately, many of these injuries are preventable. Prevent Child Injury recently posted a toolkit on home exercise equipment safety that focuses on providing messaging on how families can keep their children safe around a home gym, and includes a customizable press release, blog post, and images.

Some of the tips included in this toolkit include:

  • Restrict access to equipment by keeping equipment in a closed room with a door or put up a fence or baby gate around the equipment itself.
  • Give kids something else to do instead. Keeping games and toys available in the same general area can be helpful to keep children busy and still within sight while parents exercise.
  • When not in use, put away weights and unplug equipment. Remember to keep cords safely stored away as well.
  • Safety devices should also be used to guard against unintended use.
  • When age-appropriate, teach children how to properly and safely use each machine.