Horse riding carries a higher risk of accidents especially for the inexperienced

Special advice is needed when a traveller is going abroad for sporting activities.

Many travellers attending surgeries or travel clinics are likely to be undertaking activities such as skiing, swimming, sailing, cycling, football, rugby, golf, cricket, marathons or horse riding.

An obvious hazard is a musculoskeletal injury which may follow an accident and can be due to muscle fatigue, sprains, sometimes fractures, dehydration or exhaustion.

  • Sport is sometimes undertaken by those whose knowledge about what is involved is inadequate. and the specific activity may not be suitable for the person's state of physical fitness.

  • When team sports are being undertaken, the sending organisation may have to follow the health and safety regulations of the country or countries concerned.

Knee and leg injuries are common with skiing
  • The risks vary with the activity involved and the experience of the traveller but for the non-professional individual holiday-maker skiing, cycling and horse riding pose a higher risk of accidents.

Sport at a professional level

At a professional level, sporting organisations usually have very well organised health and sports medicine departments since fitness for competitive sporting activities is an essential and often very costly requirement.

  • Advice at this level is something undertaken by specially trained personnel who are familiar with the medical, financial and legal aspects of organising sporting activities.

Health risks related to travelling for sport

Physical fitness appropriate for the activities to be undertaken can easily be underestimated, especially in unfamiliar surroundings.

Further advice may be necessary when sporting activities involve going for short periods for competitions to countries where the climate is very different. Also, athletes sometimes train at high altitude to raise their haemoglobin level and increase their ability to carry oxygen which may improve their performance at lower levels (see course 3)

Some sports risk bleeding injuries more than others
  • Personal attention to lifestyle and behaviour to prevent infections is essential and most vaccinations and precautions against malaria will be the same as for other travellers. If bleeding injuries are more likely, e.g. rugby football, hepatitis B vaccination should be considered.

  • This is more so in countries with inadequate medical facilities and where there is a possibility of needing emergency surgery, intravenous infusions or blood transfusions.

Additional general travel health advice

Other health risks are the same as for other travellers (see in particular courses 4-6)

However, since injuries may be more likely, insurance to cover the specific sporting activities involved is essential. Insurance companies often specify which sporting activities must be declared.