By Kristin Legg, Certified Personal Trainer, Campus Recreation Services
Walking is an adaptable, versatile exercise routine that you can continue throughout the year as part of a healthy lifestyle, but as with any physical activity it is important to take safety precautions.
Here are some tips to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience no matter what time of year:
Spring/Summer. Make sure you stay well hydrated and wear appropriate workout clothing to stay cool during the heat. Know the signs of heat exhaustion – headaches, weakness, muscle cramps, and nausea are a few. Slow down or stop if you feel any of these symptoms. Make sure to carry a water bottle with you during your long walks.
Fall/Winter. As it gets cooler, it also gets darker earlier. Find a walking buddy to walk with around your neighborhood or on campus. This is also a great way to hold yourself and your friend accountable and motivated as well as having safety in numbers.
Tips for Walking Anytime
- Walk against oncoming traffic.
- Always use sidewalks when available.
- Obey crosswalk signals. Drivers do not always give the pedestrian the right of way so be careful, especially if you are on a road without a sidewalk.
- Watch out for cyclists.
- Change up your routine and route frequently. Don’t walk the same route each time. Not only will this keep you safe it also makes walking more enjoyable with a change in scenery.
- Dress to be seen. Wear light colored or reflective clothing. The key is to be as visible as possible. Walk in well-lit areas whenever possible.
- Keep an eye out for environmental and physical surroundings.
- Check the weather for impending storms or extreme temperatures, either hot or cold.
- Be aware of the walking surface you are on and watch out for fallen branches, cracks in the sidewalks, or other obstacles (trust me, I’ve had the misfortune of falling during walks/runs due to sidewalk ditches – luckily, my pride was hurt more than my knees).
- Do not wear headphones or talk on a cell phone while walking as that can distract you from your surroundings. If you need to listen to music, keep it low. Try having one ear bud in while the other ear can listen out for traffic and passersby.
- Don’t wear any flashy jewelry that might catch somebody’s attention.
Consider bringing with you:
- Water bottle
- Walking stick (for stability and defense)
- Pepper spray
- Cell phone
- Umbrella (in case of sudden downpour)
- Personal I.D.
Share with us! Do you have any walking safety tips of your own?