There’s nothing like a day spent outside. Outdoor exercise is great for the body, mind and soul, but it’s not without its complications. The biggest risk of outdoor exercise is that it can put you at risk.
Whether it’s tree roots jutting out of the trail, uneven rocks or sudden animal encounters, there are health risks lying in wait. However, you can remain safe by simply keeping a few tips in mind.
From wearing medical bracelets to loading out with the right gear, you can remain safe while exercising in the great outdoors.
Before we jump into the safety tips, let’s first discuss why you need to think ahead. Outdoor exercise is excellent for the body, but there are various risks that need to be taken into consideration.
First of all, you could easily get injured, whether running, mountain biking, cycling or hiking. Exercising by yourself brings its own complications, but if you’re isolated far away from other people, you could be in trouble.
Second, if you’re making a trip into the mountains or deep woods, there’s a chance you could become lost. Suddenly, you can’t find your way back to your car, as your phone died and you can’t figure out your exact location. Now the sun is going down. It’s getting dark and you’re without a flashlight. It’s in your car. You forgot to bring a backpack with you. You expected this to be a short hike. You don’t have any water or food. It’s getting cold as the night continues.
By being separated from society, you run the risk of a simple mistake or event becoming exponentially worse. This is why you need to plan ahead, taking measures to guarantee you provide yourself with safety measures before starting your workout.
How do you avoid running into these risks? The clearest way is by making pre-workout decisions that protect you against potential pitfalls.
The first thing you need to do is make sure you know where you’re going before you head outside. While you might feel comfortable with the route you have in mind, you should double-check before you leave.
Consider bringing some tools along with you to make tracking your location easy in the event you get lost along the way. This can include bringing a physical map. The modern option of carrying your smartphone works just as well.
However, you should remember that, depending on where you’ll be traveling to outside, you may lose signal to your smartphone. Even if you have Google Maps, it will be useless if you can’t get a digital signal. For this reason, always make sure to store a map and compass.
Make sure you let someone else know where you’re going. In the event that your phone dies and you get lost or have a medical emergency, you’re put between a rock and a hard place. You can improve your personal safety by having someone else look out for you.
Tell a family member or friend when you’re leaving, where you’ll be exercising, how long you think your workout will take and when you think you’ll be home. If they haven’t heard anything from you around these set times, they can consider taking action. If it turns out that you haven’t arrived home within a few hours, they can decide to contact other family and friends and, eventually, emergency services.
Consider it a lifeline to society, protecting you in case anything ever happens.
As mentioned above, make sure you bring your cell phone along with you. And make sure it’s charged! In the event of an emergency, you want something that will allow you to reach out to the rest of the world.
Remember to keep a charger in your car to make sure your phone always has a charge. Consider carrying a solar charger if you’re going hiking, too, as it will allow you to power your phone while you’re on the go.
There is always a risk of injury when exercising outdoors. And if you live with a medical condition, there’s a chance that you could have a medical emergency while outside — whether that be cycling on backroads in a rural area or hiking deep into the forest.
If you have a chronic illness, it is imperative that you wear ID bracelets. Engraved medical alert bracelets can protect you if a medical emergency happens by providing bystanders with pertinent information related to your conditions.
If you happen to have a medical emergency somewhere, a passerby might attempt to help you, calling an ambulance at the same time. In the midst of that, they are going to see your medical ID bracelet. They’ll suddenly see all of your medical information and know what information EMS will need to know. Moreover, they can provide immediate assistance based on the conditions listed on your bracelet.
Make sure you know what to expect when outdoors. Outdoor exercise is great because of the exploration deep into the elements. There’s a joy to being outside, experiencing the wind, changing weather, shifting clouds and more. But if you don’t have the proper clothing, a sudden passing storm might not be appreciated.
It’s important to check the weather before you head out, as you’ll be able to bring proper gear and clothing to deal with any changes — from wind to precipitation to sudden heat.
If the weather reports show midday rain, either get your workout in earlier or bring a waterproof jacket with you. Tie it around your waist to carry it while keeping your hands free. If temperatures will be lower at the mountain top, make sure to store a pair of wind pants, jacket, gloves and hat in your hiking pack.
We mentioned a hiking pack, and that deserves further exploration. Hiking backpacks are a must-have for anyone who plans on spending more than an hour or two outside. The benefit afforded to outdoor adventurers is it makes it far easier to carry gear — and lots of it. From water to extra clothing, gloves to snacks, a flashlight to a multi-tool knife, you can store away tools that can keep you safe, no matter the conditions you run into.
Make sure you do your research before purchasing a backpack. Find one that fits your physical frame and has enough carrying capacity for your needs. Your best option is to go to a local outdoor shop and try out the backpacks they have in stock. That will give you a specific idea of how the pack fits and feels on your body.
You might be headed on a short hike or walk, but it’s recommended that you carry water with you whenever you’re exercising. If you don’t want to carry a large Nalgene with you while out on a run, you should know that there are other options available.
Hydration products can range from hand-held water bottles to hydration packs. You should try out a variety of products to find which works best for your needs. Hand-held water bottles are great for runners and hikers headed out on short workouts who need enough water to carry them from start to finish.
If you’re training for a marathon or going on a hike over 5 miles, we recommend getting a hydration pack. It will make it easy to carry a few liters of water as well as your keys, phone, energy gels, snacks, sunscreen and more.
Headed out on a late-nite run, walk or bike ride? Throw on some reflective gear before you leave your home. Reflective gear comes in many different types of products, including:
Any reflective gear is helpful, as it can keep you safe from drivers, who otherwise might have difficulty seeing you late at night.
To improve your safety further, we recommend wearing bright neon clothing along with reflective gear. Consider throwing a reflective vest over a bright yellow wind jacket. It’s a simple way to ensure that aware drivers can actually see you while out on the roads.
Walking your dog in the morning? Going for an evening run? Going for a hike mid-morning? Bring a headlamp with you!
You can always bring along a flashlight, but a headlamp is a superior product because of where it directs light and how it allows for hands-free exercise.
Headlamps can help you in numerous ways, including:
As with every electronic device, make sure you double-check its batteries or charge before leaving. Unsure of its conditions? Replace the batteries or charge it overnight before heading outside.
Many people like exercising to music. It’s understandable. There’s nothing like getting lost in the rhythm or melody of a song, especially when you’re going through an especially tough workout.
However, you should leave the music at home when exercising outside. It’s important to do so if you’re exercising out on the roads, as you’ll want to listen for oncoming cars, most of all. Furthermore, you’ll want to listen for other cyclists and runners who might be trying to pass by you.
This is especially important to do if you’re out on the trail. The reason being is you want to stay safe, both from animals and other people. You’ll want to hear a person approaching from behind if they’re running, mountain biking or hiking. You’ll also want to listen out for any noticeable animal sounds, especially if you’re in a territory that is known for bears, bucks, mountain lions or moose. Hearing them before you see them can protect you from a more dangerous scenario.
There is nothing as relaxing and refreshing as exercising outdoors. If you’re someone who loves outdoor exercise, you know how great it is. And you’ve likely had your own run-in with the dangers of outdoor exercise.
Make sure you stay safe whenever heading outside to get in a workout. From telling a loved one where you’re going to wearing medical bracelets or engraved Apple Watch IDs, you can improve your safety with ease.