The sudden death of SurveyMonkey CEO David Goldberg after he apparently fell off a treadmill was a tragedy for those who loved him—and a reminder to everyone else that fitness machines can be dangerous if not used properly. In fact, according to data from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, some of the most common serious injuries that ER staff witness each year are the result of people using exercise equipment, including treadmills, per USA Today. In 2012, nearly 460,000 people went to the hospital for exercise equipment-related injuries, and though most were treated and released, 32,000 of those people were either hospitalized or were dead on arrival. The numbers for the treadmill in particular have been high for a while: According to a 2011 CBS News report, some 19,000 people went to the ER in 2009 for treadmill injuries, including 6,000 or so kids.
One of those kids who received media attention was Mike Tyson's 4-year-old daughter, Exodus, who died in 2009 after getting tangled in a treadmill cord. Quartz notes the bruises, broken bones, and worse that can result from treadmill accidents, and it cites a 2012 study that calls pediatric injuries from these machines an "emerging problem" that presents a "significant danger" to children. It's worrisome enough in Australia that there's now a campaign targeted to warning how risky treadmills are for young kids, the BBC notes. But although it's understandable to see how kids can use the machines incorrectly, how do we explain so many adult injuries? Michael Miller speculates in the Washington Post the rise in exercise equipment injuries could be partly attributed to more powerful equipment, as well as more distracting devices like smartphones. (Hopefully treadmill desks are safe.)