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Backpacking Fitness

Hiking is Dangerous?

Survey ranks the activity behind snowboarding and sledding as the most dangerous

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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) put together a survey of injury data from 2004 and 2005 to come up with a list of the sports with the highest rates of injury per 100,000 people. And I was shocked to see that hiking, that most fundamental of human activities—you know, where you put one foot in front of the other—was ranked third ahead of water-skiing, jet-skiing, and mountain biking.

The news as reported in today’s New York Times, does point out that skier injuries were conspicuously absent from the survey—and as a snowboarder, I’d say they’re suspiciously absent. Apparently there was no useful date for the CDC to tap regarding skiers. I suspect that if there were, then skiing would’ve been in the top three, and pushed hiking off the podium. Or, maybe not. After all, I never would’ve thought that hiking would make the top three.

Some other fun facts from the survey which was published in the recent issue of Wilderness and Environmental Medicine:

Those crazy kids: 58% of injuries occur to people between the ages of 0-24. After age 35, injuries hold steady at 13%. I suppose the high rate of youthful injuries have to do with being uncoordinated and learning new sports, but I also suspect that some sort of sports-minded Darwinism is going on here as well.

Testosterone maniacs: Over two-thirds of injuries occur to men, probably because we’re guys and we find doing stupid stuff that could kill us highly appealing.

“Oh, my leg!” The majority of boo-boo’s, 27%, involve the legs, which makes sense when you see that nearly all these sports involve our legs (Fishing and boating being the possible exceptions).