On Treadmills & David Goldberg….
The Takeaway First
Dave Goldberg’s death is shocking, but we have to remember that one highly unusual accident during exercise is not a good reason to avoid exercise.
What Happened to Dave?
The story is eerily simple. Dave Goldberg, CEO and founder of Survey Monkey and husband of Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, was in Punta Mita, Mexico vacationing with his family. He went to the gym in the afternoon, got on the treadmill, and apparently somehow slipped. He hit his head hard enough on the machine to crack it open, and he died from blood loss and brain injury. There was no foul play; it was just an accident – seemingly. Although, the possibility of him having a heart attack while on the treadmill should not be ruled out – an occurrence that is not all that uncommon.
My Take On This
I first heard the news from a Facebook newsfeed by my friend and Prost-P10x partner Craig Cooper. His message on his Facebook page struck home: “Rich or poor. Billionaires, paupers, Princesses, Google executives, Nepalese Buddhists – and normal people like us. It doesn’t matter. Every day could be the last day so live every day like it is.” I have many things to say about this besides expressing my condolences to the man’s family – I cannot even begin to imagine what his family is going through right now.
First, don’t let the unfortunate death of one man on a treadmill discourage you from keeping your body healthy. We are all looking for excuses to avoid doing what’s right for our wellness. News like Goldberg’s can easily steer people away from treadmills or from training all together. Within the last 10 years there has been only 30 deaths from treadmill accidents. Compare that to over 600,000 deaths from heart attacks and just fewer than 600,000 deaths from cancer in just one year – both caused to a large degree by insufficient movement. So, avoid creating a story to support your decision to not exercise. No you will will not die from using a treadmill. The treadmill is just one of many ways to get your body moving, and the pursuit of good cardiovascular health is probably the least deadly way to spend your time (due to the fact that it consistently and significantly reduces people’s risk of death and disease).
Second, I look at the way people exercise today, and it’s kind of funny how reliant we have become on machines simply to move our bodies. The treadmill is one example of this. Originally, in the 1800s, the first treadmills had a purpose: to generate power. Later, they were used in jails to punish prisoners. Now what do we use them for? It’s just a machine that we have built with a moving belt that we can walk or run on. But my question is this: is there not enough walking space outdoors? I can understand rowing machines (we don’t all have a canoe and a river) and stationary bikes (we don’t all have safe places to ride), but I think everyone who can walk can do so…anywhere!
Besides, if you’re a runner, running on the treadmill has obvious disadvantages. One, you’re missing the benefits of fresh air, sunshine, and a stimulating environment. (Let’s be real: running in place is boring.) But more than that, it has the tendency to produce poor gait due to the absence of wind. Ironically, it also confuses the body and disrupts the runner’s sense of balance because the pace of the treadmill is unnaturally predictable. If he or she were running outside, the pace would vary all the time. OK, I too run and even sprint on treadmills and Goldberg’s unfortunate news will not deter me from doing so. But now the weather is nice. I am ready to hit the road.
What You Should Do
Safety issues aside, the fact of the matter is that we should spend as much time outdoors as possible. Not only is it more natural to do so but you also breath fresh air and expose your face to sunshine. Unless you’re taking a medical test and plugged into a machine with IVs and electrodes, you should really just take a walk or a run outside – weather permitting, of course. I advocate natural remedies for prevention and co-management of health problems, and taking a walk outdoors is not only the cheapest and most accessible form of exercise. There’s no excuse… just be aware of your surrounding when you do so.
Getting a complete cardiovascular work up – one that includes a stress test – can help determine if you are one of the very few that may be at risk of a heart attack during exertion.
Bottom line: see your heart doctor and stay moving. Outdoors activity is always better but no excuses, if jumping on a treadmill is all you have, so be it.
RIP David Goldberg.