Six Tips for Safe Outdoor Exercise
Summer brings us longer daylight hours and more comfortable temperatures as well as the perfect opportunity to take exercising outdoors. There are many physical and mental health benefits that come with outdoor fitness. To maximize your workout, follow these suggestions to help ensure your safety in the process.
Buddy Up. Not only does an exercise partner help keep fitness enjoyable and you accountable, but it also adds a safety net. If you do plan to go out alone, inform someone where you are going, anticipated time of return, and the plan of action if you do not contact them by the appointed time. You could also research hiking/running tracker apps as a high-tech solution to keep someone aware of your location.
Build Gradually. Take the time to assess your current physical ability and experience outdoors, before setting out on the trails and roads. Consider the distance, terrain, and what services/facilities may be nearby. Choose a flat one-mile route and add to your routine as experience allows.
Know Your Route. Begin with familiar areas. Try a simple “out and back” trail and/or take a photo of the trailhead map before you start your trek. Be mindful of branching trails as you progress. As your navigational experience grows, you can increase exploration with maps or GPS apps. When planning your run on the road, choose routes with good lighting when going out early in the morning or in evening hours. Stick to roads with wide shoulders and less high-speed vehicle traffic. Be aware of your surroundings and stay fully engaged when on a trail or the road.
Check the Weather. Serious weather is a major risk that puts a damper on an enjoyable day outdoors. Apart from severe thunderstorms, most people can safely carry out their exercise outside while wearing the appropriate clothing and gear.
Dress Appropriately. Wear bright colors whether hiking on the trails or running on the roads. This will ensure that you are visible to motorists and wildlife. When you are out in low light conditions, wear reflective clothing or a flashing light on your person.
Take What You Need. A frequent danger while hiking and running long distances is dehydration. Drink plenty of water before you set out and bring a full water bottle with you. If you plan to be out for longer than an hour, pack additional nutrition. Bring a cell phone with you; in the event of emergencies, you will have a method of communication. Don’t let your phone distract you from the remarkable scenery, snap a few photos and then tune back into nature.
Utilize these tips to help you make the most of your outdoor workouts this summer. Let nature be your new gym.
Crystal Labbe-Hasty, PA, is an advanced practice provider at SVMC ExpressCare/Respiratory Evaluation Center, part of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and Southwestern Vermont Health Care in Bennington.