Spring is here, and many of us are drawn outside for some well deserved fresh air and exercise. The following list outlines some very basic, common sense safety tips, so that you may enjoy your freedom and get in shape for summer.
1. Identification -- Carry some form of identification on you. Most exercise gear has small pockets for this very reason. Ideally, you should have your driver's license and/or a small card that lists your number and the number of an emergency contact.
2. Telephone -- Having your telephone with you can help to keep you in touch with family and friends and, if necessary, connect you with emergency services. In cases where cell phone reception is not good or your phone runs out of battery, then it would be great to carry some change for a payphone or even have a phone card tucked away with your identification.
3. No valuable jewelry -- Diamonds are a girl's best friend, but not during your work out! Wearing expensive jewelry may bring unwanted attention to you and make you a target of thieves, so leave the fancy watch, rings, earrings, etc. back at home.
4. Partners -- Exercising with a partner or group greatly reduces your chance of being targeted. Also, if one of you should get injured or sick, then the other is available to get help and reduce your vulnerability.
5. Know your route -- It is best to be very familiar with your exercise route and know where there are any areas which may be potentially dangerous. Running or riding a trail path, even if you know it well, has its dangers -- lurking threats, animals and injuries in isolated areas. It is best to travel these with a partner or at least map out your route using your smart phone's map feature.
6. Family or Friends -- Someone close to you should know when you are exercising, where you are exercising and when you are expected back.
7. Vary routes -- You should have a few routes which you are very familiar with and change these up so that you are not predictable to someone who may be watching you.
8. Dogs are your best friend -- If you own a large dog, then taking him with on a jog helps to deter people from approaching you. Plus, the dog benefits from the extra exercise. If you don't own a dog, maybe borrow one from a friend or neighbor!
9. Pay attention to your surrounding -- It is great to get into the "zone" while exercising, but make sure to stay aware of where you are, who is around you and where you are going.
10. Run against traffic and bike with traffic -- This ensures that you are most visible to cars, buses and trucks. When possible, run on sidewalks away from traffic and ride in designated biking lanes.
11. No playlists on headphones -- As tempting as it is to help pass the time, don't wear headphones while exercising outdoors. Your ability to pay attention to potential threats from traffic, barking dogs and other people is greatly reduced when you are listening to music. Wearing headphones also signals to potential threats that you are preoccupied and vulnerable.
12. Be visible -- If exercising in the dark then make sure to wear bright reflective clothing. There are many products on the market with reflective material -- hats, headbands, vests, arm bands, tops, shorts/pants and shoes.
13. Keep moving -- If verbally harassed or called out by an individual or group it is best to keep on moving. If the verbal harassment becomes a physical threat then get to the nearest safe place -- business, home or building.
Enjoy your outdoor exercise while keeping an eye on your safety!
Stay safe, live well!