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More people more active, but there is a counter site. Novice athletes are at highest risk of injury in a large population-based retrospective cross-sectional study
  1. Ellen Kemler1,
  2. Huib Valkenberg1,
  3. Evert Verhagen2
  1. 1Dutch Consumer Safety Institute, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  2. 2Amsterdam Collaboration on Health & Safety in Sports, Department of Public and Occupational Health, Amsterdam Movement Sciences, Amsterdam UMC, University Medical Centers – Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ellen Kemler; e.kemler{at}


Objectives To evaluate whether in fitness-related activities and recreational running over time, there is an increase in the number of novice sports athletes and whether these novice athletes have an increased injury rate compared with their experienced counterparts.

Methods Data were collected from a large population-based retrospective cross-sectional study, ‘Injuries and Physical Activity in the Netherlands’ (IPAN). Athletes aged ≥18 years were included. We used descriptive statistics to describe the characteristics of athletes and their injuries. The number of athletes and injuries were calculated for each year and, where applicable, for each sport separately. The injury incidence rate was expressed as the number of injuries per 1000 hours of exposure. Logistic regression analyses were performed with non-extrapolated data to analyse the differences in injury risk for novice and experienced athletes included in this study, separate for fitness-related activities and running.

Results Over the 5 years, 9209 fitness athletes reported 370 fitness-related injuries, 5426 runners reported 537 running-related injuries. Weighted data showed that, in 2010–2014, the inflow of novice fitness athletes slightly decreased, whereas the inflow of novice runners slightly increased. In each year, injury risk was higher in novice athletes compared with experienced athletes for both fitness-related activities and running. The injury incidence rates in running are much higher than in fitness-related activities.

Conclusions Over the years 2010–2014, the absolute number of novice athletes in fitness-related activities and running together increased. Although most injuries occurred in experienced athletes, injury risk was higher in novice athletes in both sports.

  • injuries
  • injury
  • running

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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  • Contributors EK was responsible for the conceptualisation of the idea of the study, data analyses, interpretation of the data and preparation of the manuscript. HV was responsible for the interpretation of the data, and the critical review of the manuscript. EV was responsible for the conceptualisation of the idea of the study, interpretation of the data and preparation of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests EV is an Editorial Board Member of BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.