Despite benefits of physical activity (PA), exercise is also associated with risks. Musculoskeletal injury (MSI) risk increases with exercise frequency/intensity. MSI is associated with costs including medical care and time lost from work.
To evaluate the economic costs associated with PA-related MSIs in community-dwelling women.
Participants included 909 women in the Women’s Injury Study reporting PA behaviors and MSI incidence weekly via the Internet for up to 3 years (mean follow-up 1.89 years). Participants provided consent to obtain health records. Costs were estimated by medical records and self-reports of medical care. Components included physician visits, medical facility contacts, medication costs, and missed work.
Of 909 participants, 243 reported 323 episodes of expenditure or contact with the health care system associated with PA. Total costs of episodes ranged from $0–$18,934. Modal cost was $0 (mean = $433 ± $1670). Costs were positively skewed with nearly all participants reporting no or very low costs.
About 1 in 4 community-dwelling women who are physically active experienced a PA-related MSI. The majority of injuries were minor, and large expenses associated with MSI were rare. The long-term health benefits and costs savings resulting from PA likely outweigh the minor costs associated with MSI from a physically-active lifestyle.