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 earbud 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 Sport 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.