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Sport and Recreation Safety


​​​​​​​​​Being active helps you stay healthy, live longer, and build and maintain strong bones and muscles. Although exercise, playing sports, and taking part in other types of recreation can have risks, being more active every day has many health benefits.

Stay safe while taking part in sport and recreation activities. These tips can reduce your chance of falling, getting hurt, or having a serious injury:

  • Check the environment to reduce or avoid hazards.
  • Wear protective gear.
  • Develop skills.

Check the environment to reduce or avoid hazards

To improve safety, look for hazards. A hazard is something dangerous that may not be obvious but that can cause serious injury. Examples of hazards include thin ice on a frozen lake, broken equipment, or an icy sidewalk.

A risk is different. A risk is a situation where you can see the chance of an injury happening, think about the challenge, and decide what to do.

Your challenge is to learn to recognize, reduce, or avoid hazards, while having the chance to explore and accept the level of risk you’re comfortable with.

For example, when you are out walking on a nature trail and see a hole, root, or wet section on your path (a hazard), you can:

  • Prepare for the hazard by walking slowly and making sure you have the right shoes and equipment for your walk.
  • Reduce the hazard by walking during daylight hours, when the trail is well-lit.
  • Avoid the hazard by walking on clean, well-maintained trails, or finding a path around the hazard when you can.

Wear protective gear

Wearing protective gear like a helmet, mouth guard, elbow pads, and knee pads can lower your risk of an injury. No matter what the activity, make sure you use the right gear and equipment. The gear should fit and be worn properly every time. Learn about fitting helmets for different activities.

Develop skills

Prepare and plan before starting a sport or activity. This includes getting your gear together and warming up. Warm-up programs that include aerobic (activities that bring up your heart rate), balance, strength, and agility (being able to move quickly and easily) exercises may help reduce the risk of injury.

Training and practice help you learn how to do an activity and get better at it. They also help lower your risk of getting hurt by teaching you how to participate in an activity safely. If you don’t know how to do an activity, start slowly to develop skills. Think about taking lessons to learn or improve how you ski, skate, bike, or play a sport. Take lessons from someone who knows how to teach the skills, like a trained coach or professional. They can help with both skill development and safety.

Special considerations


Learn how to prevent, detect, and manage a concussion. A concussion is a brain injury that can be caused by any impact to your head, face, or neck. A hit to your body that shakes your head can also result in a concussion. If you think you might have had a concussion, stop doing the sport or activity right away.

Winter walking

Winter weather can make walking hard. Reduce the risk of falling with these winter walking tips. As you get older, falls become more of a concern. To prevent falls:

  • stay active
  • build strength
  • work to challenge your balance


Current as of: December 6, 2021

Author: Provincial Injury Prevention, Alberta Health Services