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Can we afford to exercise, given current injury rates?
  1. R J Shephard
  1. Faculty of Physical Education and Health and Department of Public Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor Roy Shephard, PO Box 521, Brackendale, BC V0N 1H0, Canada; 

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Fatalities could be reduced through application of our current knowledge

A lack of adequate and regular physical activity is now recognised as a major factor contributing to many forms of chronic disease,1–3 and public health agencies around the world are eager to encourage the general population to become more active.4–6 However, papers such as those of Conn and associates,7 and repeated surveys from various countries, including Britain,8 Denmark,9 France,10 Finland,11 Germany,12 South Africa,13 and the US14 note an important social and economic toll from injuries among current exercisers. Some authors have suggested that the incidence of such adverse consequences could be sufficient to counter8 both health and economic arguments for the advocacy of exercise,15 whereas others have considered these injuries an inevitable consequence of participation in health giving exercise.16,17 A journal such as Injury Prevention can hardly accept the position that such events are unavoidable “accidents”. Nevertheless, it seems appropriate to question both the magnitude of the problem and the ability to generalise the findings, while suggesting appropriate preventive measures.

As Conn and associates point out, the conclusions that can be drawn from a given survey are limited by problems of recall and seasonal effects.7 When attempting to generalise conclusions to other countries, we must add issues associated with differences in …

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