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Safety for Outdoor ExerciseSafety for Outdoor Exercise


Safety for Outdoor Exercise

Whether you are on the road, a sidewalk, or a trail, it's important to take responsibility for your safety when exercising outdoors. Put these tips into practice every time you hit the pavement for a workout.

Research your route.

Pedestrian and bike routes can change drastically within a short distance. Sidewalks end, trails have long stretches with no shade, and residential neighborhoods can lead to industrial areas that are not ideal for pedestrian traffic. Use Google Maps Street View to research your route before you head out the door. Have a distance or time goal in mind, and make sure your route will allow you to reach this goal without putting you in danger.

Be visible at dusk and dawn.

You may feel that you are highly visible on the road, but that is not always the case from the perspective of a driver. The rising or setting sun can obstruct vision, and mobile phones can cause distractions. Stay aware of your surroundings and always ensure that a driver sees you and stops completely before crossing an intersection. This is especially important at dusk or dawn when visibility is reduced. Use lights on bikes, dress in bright colors, and add reflectors.

Follow the rules of the road.

It's important to follow bike and pedestrian rules for the road. When walking or jogging on sidewalks, moving in either direction is acceptable. When biking on the road, travel in the same direction as traffic. When walking or running on the road, move against the flow of traffic so that you are facing oncoming vehicles. These directional rules may seem unimportant if you are going a short distance or exercising in a quiet area but stick to them. When you travel in the wrong direction, you disrupt the flow of traffic and endanger yourself and others.

Avoid distractions.

Listening to music can be motivating, and phone conversations can pass the time, but these activities distract you from your surroundings and slow your reaction time. Loud music can drown out honking cars, and being immersed in deep conversation can prevent you from taking a good look before crossing an intersection.

Lori Rice, M.S., is a nutritional scientist and author with a passion for healthy cooking, exercise physiology, and food photography.
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