April 29, 2020
Break Out in a Sweat Safely at Home

Photo: Canva

Are you a gym junkie suffering withdrawal symptoms or a casual exerciser that has jumped on the home fitness bandwagon?
In the wake of gyms and sporting facilities being forced to close due to COVID-19 restrictions, shelves in retail stores across the country have been stripped bare of weights, yoga mats, treadmills and exercise bikes, as people rush to set up makeshift gyms at home.

If you are one of the estimated 30% of Australians with a membership at your local gym, you might have noticed something missing – kids! Most gyms are kid free zones because heavy, sharp and mechanical equipment make them dangerous places for children – which is a blessing to many Mums and Dads chasing some quality ‘me time’.

Having access to gym equipment at home is a great way to keep in shape, maintain a routine and alleviate some of the boredom isolating at home brings. However, it can also pose some injury hazards, especially when you have little ‘mini me’s’ who want to copy everything that their parents are doing.

Statistics from the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit (VISU) reveal that in 2018/19, 127 Victorian children aged 0-14 years were treated in hospital for an injury involving home exercise equipment, with almost half of all cases occurring in kids aged 0-4 years. Treadmills were the most common type of equipment involved, followed by dumbbells/weights and exercise bikes.

Common injuries include little fingers or hands being crushed, cut or broken after they have been trapped in small gaps or moving parts, friction burns from treadmill belts, damaged toes or feet after an unsuccessful attempt at lifting heavy weights and head injuries as a result of falls. Some of these cases can be quite severe, with children requiring skin grafts or permanently losing the normal use of their fingers and hands.

The last thing anyone wants to do is end up in a paediatric emergency department because that shiny piece of new gym equipment, which was purchased with the best health and wellbeing intentions, caused some harm. We also don’t want you to pack up your exercise equipment and ship it right back where it came from! The good news is that with some simple planning and safety measures, you can have your home fitness set up and help keep the kids safe too.

It only takes a split second for injuries to occur – therefore, setting up and storing your equipment in a separate room that can be locked or closed off, is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of injury to any eager little exercisers.

Some other tips that can help you to set up and use your equipment safely:

  • • When purchasing new or second hand equipment (if there is any left!), look for safety features including child proof switches, covers/guards and safety stop switches.
  • • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when setting up and using equipment – these will also have important information about how to set up and use the safety features.
  • • Unplug motorised equipment at the wall when not in use.
  • • Remove or secure any dangling cords that could pose a strangulation hazard.
  • • Make sure the area surrounding the equipment has some clear space and there are no kids around before you use it – this can be challenging as they do have a unique way of seeking you out, even when you are in the bathroom.

There’s also a range of other great ways to get some regular exercise and keep fit that you can involve the whole family in – think nightly walks around your local neighbourhood, kicking the footy in the backyard, getting out and doing some gardening or even setting up your own family weekend dance party in the lounge room .

When normal life does finally resume, you may find that your home equipment doesn’t get as much use as you head back to the local gym for some uninterrupted exercise time! Don’t let it collect dust in the corner and be forgotten about though, keep the above tips in mind to help make sure that everyone stays safe.

We would love to see what you are doing to make your home fitness set up safe – feel free to share with us on our Facebook page!