Staying fit is one of the most important things you can do for your health, both as we battle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and regardless of what external situations may be. Unfortunately, there have been challenges for most people in the past few months as far as how they exercise.
Lockdowns in many states have led to gym closures, and a few months ago, even many public outdoor areas were closed.
Now, while most businesses are up and running again, in some states, gyms still can’t be open.
If you’re moving your exercise routine outside, there are considerations to keep in mind that you wouldn’t need to worry about if you were working out at home or indoors.
You might move your routine outside because you have to take your pet for walks too, particularly if you live in an urban area, and they don’t exercise otherwise.
Pedestrian safety is important. As an outdoor runner, you have to think about what drivers around you are doing, and you have to follow traffic laws for pedestrians. This is especially relevant as this summer has seen an increase in roadway traffic compared to earlier in the spring when more people were staying home.
Including pedestrian safety, the following are some things to keep in mind to ensure you’re safe when you run—or walk—outdoors. These tips are useful not only if you’re just exercising outdoors, but also if you’re spending more time exercising your dog outdoors, or incorporating your dog into your daily running routine.
Sharing the Road
A few things related to general safety when you’re a pedestrian, sharing the road with other people who are walking, running or biking, as well as with vehicles include:
- Make sure you and your dog are always as visible as possible. This is so important anytime you’re exercising outdoors. If you’re running in the early morning or the evening, wear light-colored clothing and reflective materials. You might also want to wear a clip-on light if you’re running at these times.
- If you’re running somewhere there’s not a sidewalk or bike path, run toward oncoming traffic, and stay at the edge of the road.
- It’s best if you have to cross a street to do so at the corner because most injuries involving pedestrians happen in the middle of the street.
- Be careful about the distractions—for example, if you’re listening to music on your headphones. If you’re running with your dog he might be able to alert you of danger, but it’s still best if you either don’t listen to music or keep it at a low volume.
Along with pedestrian safety, which is always a concern when you’re running or walking outdoors, now we have to add coronavirus safety to our list of things to think about.
Overall, health experts believe the risk of being infected when you’re exercising outdoors is low, but not altogether impossible.
Practice social distancing when you’re exercising outdoors—stay a minimum of six feet from others on sidewalks. If you can maintain more distance than that, do so.
When you’re exercising outdoors, while the open-air is good from the standpoint of reducing your risk of infection, the fact that people are breathing harder and potentially spraying droplets isn’t as good.
Try to avoid peak times when there are a lot of other people out and exercising.
As far as a mask, if you can wear one while running, do, but if you have trouble breathing, then try to avoid other people instead.
Recently a cancer researcher was murdered while she was out for a run in Texas, which was part of her normal routine. While situations like this are of course, rare, you do have to think about your personal safety when you’re running, especially if you’re alone.
First, research your route before you go if you aren’t familiar with it. This can help you avoid accidentally going into a dangerous area.
Try to run in well-lit places, and avoid completely isolated areas if you can, although of course, do so while maintaining distance.
Turning your music down is good for personal safety as well as pedestrian safety. You need to be aware of your surroundings when you’re running, to stay safe. The more cognizant you are of what’s happening around you, the better.
Before you run, let someone know your plans and where you’re going to be going.
You can also download something like the RunSafe app, which allows you to share your location with friends or family when you go on a run. RunSafe also has a panic button you can hit if you get worried about something or feel uneasy.
Even using something simple like a safety whistle can be a good rule of thumb.
If you’re changing up your fitness routine and bringing outdoors, remember to stay safe. Be aware of your surroundings, and consider social distancing. Running outdoors can be exhilarating, and some people love it a lot more than running indoors, as long as you take the necessary precautions.