Health Hazards of Daily Activities

From slipping in the shower to falling over while putting on your socks, it's the seemingly harmless daily activities that can be a significant potential risk to your health

Credit: Flickr / pdugmore2001

Getting a serious injury by slipping in the shower is more likely than you think

Everyday routines can pose much greater health risks than those rare disasters we tend to fear more

One of the more note-worthy pieces of writing I’ve come across recently was an opinion piece in the New York Times by Jared Diamond, entitled That Daily Shower Can Be a Killer. The point of the article is one that everyone should note: We face far more danger to our health and well-being, even to our lives, from things we do commonly, as opposed to hazardous things that we don’t do very often.

Yet most of us are more scared of rare and potentially dangerous events than we are of the everyday activities that are far more likely to affect us.

For example, I would bet that most of us are far more afraid of dying in an airplane accident than we are of dying in our cars. Yet, statistically, we are far more likely to be killed (or maimed) in a motor-vehicle accident than in a plane crash.

Slipping in the Shower is a Real Risk

That example is pretty obvious, I think, which is why Diamond focused instead on something you probably haven’t considered as a significant potential risk to your health: a slip in the shower (or on the street, of course). This rather common injury, especially as you get older, can result not only in broken bones, such as fractures to the wrist (which often lead to lifelong chronic pain and reduced wrist mobility) and to the hip (which raise the risk of dying prematurely for up to 10 years after the fracture), but can also result in brain injury.

In fact, a doctor responded to Diamond’s article with a letter to the Times that included this passage, which bears thinking about: “I was reminded [by Diamond’s article] of an otherwise healthy 40-year-old man in a hurry to get dressed for work who began putting his socks on without sitting down, started losing his balance, and then hit his temple on the corner of a chest — and was brain-dead by the time he reached us in the emergency department. My best advice is to always sit down to put on your underwear and socks.”

Well, I don’t know about sitting down to put on your underwear — not a comfortable task when I tried it — but the older I get and the poorer my balance gets, the more sense it’s making for me to sit down to put on my socks.

Bottom line (no pun intended here about socks or underwear): Think about your environment and habits and the things you do automatically, and pay more attention to how and where you do those because those things are far more likely to affect your well-being than the things you do only occasionally.

Dr. Art Hister is a medical writer and health analyst for Global TV.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.