Let me begin by saying all of us at Cybex are deeply saddened by the loss of Dave Goldberg. As we have seen through this tragic event, even a well-intended product like exercise equipment can produce unfortunate consequences if not used properly. With the subject of treadmill safety filling our newscasts and timelines right now, I wanted to share a discussion I had about the topic.
I spent some time with Dr. Paul Juris, the Executive Director of the Cybex Research Institute, where many pieces of fitness equipment, both Cybex and non-Cybex, are thoroughly tested and researched to provide thorough results and feedback.
CHALLENGES WITH CARDIO SAFETY
While talking to Paul, we discussed that the challenges with cardio devices, like the treadmill. People doing a cardio workout will be on the equipment for roughly 20 minutes, and often for durations up to and exceeding an hour. “In many cases, what keeps people on these devices is not the exercise itself, but the entertainment – or distraction – that accompanies that session,” said Dr. Juris. These “distractions” come from the development of embedded monitors, touchscreens, and portable technology like phones and tablets.
The balance in this situation is the benefit of the device vs. the intended result of the workout. For instance, someone who is walking for 30 minutes can most likely operate a touchscreen or device in a less hazardous manner than someone looking to run a six-minute mile on a treadmill, but the results of the workout will be less beneficial based on the choice of exercise.
A CAREFUL APPROACH TO TECHNOLOGY
At Cybex, we approach this subject with a high degree of caution, especially on our treadmills. While we provide entertainment, and continue to innovate our offerings, like Cybex GO, we want to avoid creating distractions that, even for a brief instance, can contribute to an unsafe operating condition. Paul told me that, “touchscreens are fun, but not if that distraction causes you to misplace your foot on the deck, or lose balance. Running and using a touchscreen, or any personal communication device for that matter, are not harmonious activities. “
After talking with Dr. Juris, I took a look at our owner’s manual for treadmills to see how safety was covered in them. Some of the important safety features covered in the manual included:
- STARTING THE TREADMILL
- Stand on the two top steps of the deck, not the belt.
- Clip the e-stop clip onto your clothing and test the clip to ensure it will activate in case of emergency (there is a section in the safety chapter further dealing with the e-stop clip).
- STOPPING THE TREADMILL
- Press STOP once to end the workout session and start the Workout Review.
- The treadmill will perform a controlled belt stop and bring the incline to 0%.
- IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
- Grip handrails for support.
- Step onto top steps.
- Pull the e-stop key off the console. The running belt will come to a stop.
In addition to these key safety protocols, the manuals also talk about the Safety Sentry feature and how it is intended to allow the treadmill to stop the running belt when the treadmill detects a user's absence or is left unattended. While no method is 100% proven to stop an emergency or accident, following the above safety information, along with the tips from Dr. Juris about avoiding distractions while operating the equipment does decrease the percentage.
Again, we are all saddened by the loss of Mr. Goldberg and the tragic events surrounding his death. Hopefully, with the topic of treadmill safety front and center in relation to this event, the opportunity to discuss the issue and properly educate treadmill users will heighten awareness when operating the equipment and prevent future accidents with others.