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Injuries continue to rise among New Zealand exercisers

Injuries continue to rise among New Zealand exercisers
September 21, 2019

Claims for injuries sustained while at the gym or doing exercise continue to increase in New Zealand.

According to information from New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) provided to Stuff, the number of people injuring themselves during exercise has risen consistently over the past five years.

ACC figures showed there were 312,664 claims lodged between 1st July 2013 and 26th April 2019 for injuries at the gym or while doing exercise.

In 2014, 48,952 claims were lodged, and the numbers have continued to rise every year to 2018 when there were 69,022 claims.

The claims, for injuries including concussions, hernias and fractures, have cost the organisation more than $202 million.

However, Exercise Association of New Zealand (ExerciseNZ) Chief Executive Richard Beddie said the number of injuries continued to rise as the number of people exercising grew, but cited other reasons for the increase.

Suggesting that one of the reasons was people getting information about working out online, which could result in injury, Beddie advised "we do know that it is fair to say that more and more people are exercising who haven't exercised before and many of those people do get their exercise advice from things like the internet."

Beddie said that was concerning as there were a lot of people giving advice online that "don't know what they're talking about."

He highlighted "one of the things that we (ExerciseNZ) are really clear on is making sure that if you are going to get exercise advice, get it from someone who knows what they are talking about."

Beddie also indicated that older people exercising was another assumed reason for the increase, adding "when you think 10 years ago, certainly 20 years ago, people who went to gyms ... most people were in their 20s, 30s, and that was about it.

"Nowadays, people are joining gyms when they are 80, people are joining gyms when they are 50, which is a really positive thing, it's a really good thing, but it possibly means those people are more likely to injure themselves."

ACC data showed 88,017 claims lodged in the past five years were for people between the ages of 20 and 29.

Beddie said that was because there were so many more people in that age range now doing exercise.

He said claims from men in the 40 to 49 age range were costing ACC the most, with more than $47.7 million paid out for that group since 2014.

Auckland had the most claims since July 2013 with 142,440, costing ACC more than $92 million.

Beddie said that was largely due to the region's large population – and no region stood out as concerning when population was considered.

At the end of last year the ACC and ExerciseNZ partnered to focus on reducing accident rates and costs in the gym and fitness industry, commencing research in order to identify what is driving these issues.

ExerciseNZ also released a number of tools to exercise professionals to help ensure they get the basics right - everything from a resource for understanding the basics of health and safety through to pre-screening tools for exercise professionals and exercise facilities to use with clients (pre-screening is one essential process to ensure any potential contra-indicated activities for an individual are identified early).

Fitness-related claims by year

2015: 56,095
2016: 61,493
2017: 61,983
2018: 69,022

Click here to view the best practice guide for understanding health and safety.

Related Articles

20th August 2019 - ExerciseNZ’s Beddie highlights ways that activity increases life expectancy

24th July 2019 - ExerciseNZ calls for action on New Zealand’s obesity epidemic and physical inactivity crisis

30th April 2019 - ExerciseNZ looks to reverse misconception that summer is the best time to join a gym

16th April 2019 - ExerciseNZ encourages entries for 2019 New Zealand Exercise Industry Awards

1st April 2019 - ExerciseNZ’s Beddie flags anomaly of New Zealand having high gym membership and low overall physical inactivity

23rd January 2019 - New Zealanders must grasp a far greater awareness of health

23rd December 2018 - New Zealanders’ attitude to exercise attitudes and Government focus need to change in 2019

10th October 2018 - ExerciseNZ acknowledged as top industry association for communications and marketing

1st October 2018 - ACC and ExerciseNZ combine to reduce gym accidents

24th July 2018 - ExerciseNZ calls for tighter guidelines for high intensity workouts

16th June 2018 - Family members call for 24/7 gym regulation over man’s death in unsupervised gym

8th February 2018 - Accident Compensation Corporation notes rise in gym-related injuries

23rd August 2016 - ExerciseNZ releases guidelines on management of unsupervised fitness facilities

19th August 2016 - ExerciseNZ issues health and safety guide for fitness operators

6th September 2015 - AFIRM manual aims to improve gym safety


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