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Exercise-related Injuries among Women: Strategies for Prevention from Civilian and Military Studies.
  • Status:
  • Source:
    MMWR. Recommendations and reports : Morbidity and mortality weekly report. Recommendations and reports / Centers for Disease Control. 2000; 49(RR-2):15-33.
Filetype[PDF - 466.66 KB]

  • Corporate Authors:
    Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, USA.
  • Description:
    SCOPE OF THE PROBLEM: The numerous health benefits of physical activity have been well documented, resulting in public health support of regular physical activity and exercise. Although beneficial, exercise also has corresponding risks, including musculoskeletal injuries. The incidence and risk factors for exercise-related injury have been poorly assessed in women. Many civilian exercise activities (e.g., jogging, walking, and erobics) have corollaries in military physical training; injury incidence and risk factors associated with military physical training have been more thoroughly studied. ETIOLOGIC FACTORS: Injury risks increase as the amount of training increases (increased exposure). The same exercise parameters that can be modified to enhance physical fitness (i.e., frequency, duration, and intensity) also influence the risk for injury in a dose-response manner. Higher levels of current physical fitness (aerobic fitness) protect the participant against future injury. A history of previous injury is a risk factor for future injury. Smoking cigarettes has been associated with increased risk for exercise-related injury. Studies conducted in military populations suggest that the most important risk factor for injuries among persons engaged in vigorous weight-bearing aerobic physical activity might be low aerobic fitness rather than female sex. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PREVENTION: Because of the limited scientific research regarding women engaging in exercise, general recommendations are provided. Women starting exercise programs should be realistic about their goals and start slowly at frequency, duration, and intensity levels commensurate with their current physical fitness condition. Women should be informed about the early indicators of potential injury. Women who have sustained an injury should take precautions to prevent reinjury (e.g., ensuring appropriate recovery and rehabilitation). RESEARCH AGENDA: In general, a combination of factors affects the risk for exercise-related injury in women. How these factors act singly and in combination to influence injury risk is not well understood. Additional research regarding exercise-related injury in women is needed to answer many of the remaining epidemiologic questions and to help develop exercise programs that improve health while reducing the risk for injury. CONCLUSION: Exercise is an important component in improving and maintaining health; however, injury is also an accompanying risk. A review of key military and civilian research studies regarding exercise-related injuries provides some clues to reducing these injuries in women. Greater adherence to exercise guidelines can help decrease these risks.

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