Springtime is finally here. It’s time to take our exercise outdoors and enjoy some fresh air while appreciating what nature provides for us. Studies have shown that exercising in natural environments versus indoors enhances mental well-being. Whether you like to walk, run, hike or bike, be sure to take the following five things with you for your next outdoor adventure.
Having your wits about you while outdoors is paramount to personal safety. It simply means keeping your guard up and remaining alert no matter what. It can be tough to stay alert at all times while exercising because it is common to zone out. This especially happens if you exercise alone and listen to music.
In the past six months, there have been quite a few brutal attacks on women runners that have made the news. No good comes from these horrible events, but we do have the opportunity to remind ourselves about our safety while running or training outdoors.
Exercising with a buddy or group is much safer than being alone. If you are alone, be extra alert and please leave your music and headphones at home. Or, at the very least, if you must listen to music, leave one ear bud out and keep your music low so you can hear the outside world around you.
Don’t rely on getting water from fountains or machines— an out of service sign may derail your route. When our muscles are hydrated, they work harder and for longer periods of time. Exercising outdoors without water can be a big mistake if you are outdoors longer than you planned, if the weather was hotter than you thought or if your body was dehydrated to begin with.
Be sure you have more water than you think you need, just in case you get lost on a hike or wind up injured and without water. Plan according to the duration and intensity of your exercise—the more you sweat, the more you should be drinking. The hotter and drier the climate, the more water you will need.
If you are running or hiking for more than two hours, I suggest wearing a hydration vest that carries at least two liters of water.
It’s always good to have a snack on hand when heading out to exercise. If you tend to experience bouts of low blood sugar, this will be especially important. When blood sugar gets too low and you are still training, your body can shut down and you may feel shaky, start to sweat profusely or even pass out. A protein bar, banana or some trail mix are a few portable snack ideas that can sustain you until you get home.
Sometimes, even when we are being alert we can find ourselves in a dangerous situation where we have to defend ourselves—just like the woman who fought off her attacker in a park bathroom in Seattle. Carrying the Mace Brand Pepper Spray Jogger can not only help you defend yourself ever attacked, it can also help keep your mind alert. The act of holding the pepper spray in your hand signals your mind to keep alert. Knowing some basic self defense moves will also increase your chances of survival.
It’s so important to carry some form of identification with you any time you head out to exercise. If you were in a bad accident and knocked unconscious someone must be able to identify you. Many of us rely on our smartphones, but in an emergency a stranger should be able to get your name quickly without playing a guessing game from your phone.
For those of you that train outdoors and would rather wear your identification on your wrist, ankle or around your neck, I love this company who created the Road ID Bracelet. Your name and emergency contact info will be engraved on your choice of jewelry and you can also include any medical issues you have on the ID. Brilliant.
I’m sure many people would agree that your 20-something years are some of the most fun and exciting times of your life. I know for me it was. I had graduated college and was living with my best girls in a three (match-book-sized) bedroom apartment on the fifth floor of a fifth-floor walkup building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I worked two jobs, went out with friends and life seemed somewhat simple.
My roommates and I kept tabs on each other so we always knew each other’s whereabouts and when we would be home. If one of us were gone a bit too long, we would check in on each other. We had a mutual yet unwritten safety system. After a couple of years, however, we all went our separate ways and got our own studio apartments so we could live on our own.
That’s when it became blatantly obvious that personal safety needed to be a high priority and a part of my everyday routine. Commuting alone, entering an empty home alone, and sleeping in an apartment by myself was new and sometimes a little scary. Luckily, around the same time I was training in martial arts, which gave me a better awareness of my personal safety. As I practiced this newfound awareness I began to feel more confident and safe which was very empowering.
If you are in your twenties, and living on your own for the first time in your life, you don’t have the comfort of knowing there are campus security cameras on your walk home, or campus police a panic button away.
Whether you are living with roommates or completely by yourself, here are my top tips for living safe and empowered in your twenties.
Commute like a boss:
Whether on public transportation or in your car, heading to and from work should be an alert and empowering experience. Too many of us like to zone out with headphones on, absorbed in our smartphones or tuned into our to-do lists. Yet, this is exactly when we should be paying attention to the road or the subway platform, holding our purses/bags tightly and walking with intent to our destination. Keep your phone in your bag and leave the headphones at home so all of your senses are awake.
If possible, take different routes home, so your commute doesn’t become predictable to potential stalkers.
Make home a safe space:
Your home should be your sanctuary: a place you retreat to after working hard all day. You shouldn’t have to worry about your safety once inside your home. If you haven’t yet, make sure all windows and doors are secure. They all should have working locks that you use every day, especially when you are sleeping. For extra protection, use Mace Brand Door & Window Guards to scare off any intruders with piercing alarms during any forced entry.
Keep your blinds or curtains closed in the evenings when it’s easy to see inside your home. You never know who may be watching.
Also, try and get to know your neighbors. It’s important to know who’s living beside you and who you can count on in the case of an emergency.
Have a check in buddy:
A check in buddy is someone you check in with on a daily basis. This can be your roommate, bestie or a relative. Someone should know your whereabouts at all times. It’s also empowering to play that role for someone else (so reach out to a friend and make the promise to always check in).
Not into sharing your whereabouts with someone all the time? There’s an app for that. In fact, there are many free apps for that nowadays. The following three apps all allow you to set up a network of guardians who can follow your whereabouts if you let them. If you’re someone who likes their alone time [hiking, biking, running, wandering or shopping] I highly recommend you use one of the following:
The more aware we are of our personal safety, the more confident we will become. The more confident we become, the more empowered we feel.