Healthspan Blog

Long healthspans mean happy lives

Sports are good exercise, but which sports are safe?

16th June 2006

I live in a rural town in the mountains with very narrow, or non-existant, shoulders.  What’s more, there are bikers by the hundreds that train and ride the streets.  Not the Harley-riders or even the speedy low-to-the-ground racing cyclers.  I mean the bicycle racers and leasure riders.  While I respect their right to be on the road and always follow the laws, I can’t help but think they are living on the edge.  Not only on the edge of the road, but the edge of life.  Turns out, riding a bike is the tenth most dangerous sport there is.

BASE (Building, Antennnae, Span, Earth) jumping is the most perilous.  Apparently, some people enjoy jumping from structures with a parachute on and hoping they’ll make it to the bottom…feet first.  I was very surprised to hear that the Golden Gate Bridge, Eiffel Tower and even the Empire State Building have all been BASE jumped.

Speed skiers hit speeds up to 160 miles per hour.  No roll cages or seatbelts like a racecar, but with speeds that rival a drag-racer’s, it’s no wonder that this is one of the most dangerous sports.  One false move could be the last.

Free diving is another risky sport.  It sounds peaceful, like jumping off a diving board into a deep pool.  Nope, free diving consists of diving and swimming up to 400 feet under water without oxygen beyond the breath they take before the plunge. 

So my kids aren’t involved in the most dangerous sports of all time, but this list got me wondering: What are the most dangerous sports and activities my kids *might* have the opportunity to join?

Basketball tops the list with nearly 2 million childhood injuries associated with hoops in 2004.  Bikes aren’t far behind with 1.6 million injuries to kids the same year.  They are followed by football and soccer, the high impact sports I thought would top the list.  Golf actually made the list, albeit in 14th place. 

Injuries in all sports are two times more likely to happen to women and girls than men and boys.  Preventable injuries account for about 20% of all reported injuries, making it very important to wear a helmet, protective gear and (especially for girls and women) to jump with knees bent, not locked. 

I consider myself a risk taker.  I live by the 5-second rule, carry heavy objects up and down stairs and even ride a bike every now and then.  But I’m going to leave my helmet on, stay out of the way of those speed skiers and never, ever fall for that “Free Diving” gimmick of peace and serenity.  I might stick to lawn golf.

Mary Smith

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