Outdoor safety tips when exercising

Exercising in the great outdoors is one of life’s great joys. Rather than be stuck in a sweaty gym or at home staring at four concrete walls, you can get fit whilst enjoying the most fabulous views, amidst wildlife as it goes about its daily business. There are significant health advantages, too. We’re not designed to spend our lives in offices or gyms and gym equipment is actually a poor substitute for what you can find outside. The air quality in the wild is vastly superior and if you are running, you’ll find that your feet are better suited to running on grassland than a conveyor belt or, even worse, asphalt.

But the wild is not given that name for no reason. It’s important to take safety precautions before going out, especially if you are alone. Here are some suggestions to help you keep safe.

Unless you are really out in the wild, stick to populated areas, parks or trails which are well lit and are not secluded. You don’t want to be ambushed. You can carry a rape alarm and pepper spray (if it’s legal in your jurisdiction) with you anyway, just in case. If you see someone who is behaving suspiciously, don’t be afraid to turn around and run away from them, raising the alarm if necessary. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Always carry your phone with youin order to be able to reach help or arrange to be picked up.

If somebody begins to follow you or starts to creep you out, be assertive and tell them in a loud voice with authority “stop right there” or “leave me alone”. This may be enough to persuade them that you will not be an easy target. If you have pepper spray, prepare to use it. Never threaten anyone with it unless you intend to use it on them as this could provoke a stronger attack.

In the event that you find yourself being attacked, fight aggressively, shout and scream to draw attention to the situation. If possible, attack the eyes, throat and groin (if the attacker is male) with as much force as you can muster.

If you do decide to run when the sun is low in the sky, carry a torch. This is not only to identify people, but will help you to see your footing more easily.

If a dog spots you, it may try to give chase. Dogs have an instinctive reaction to chase, whether they are being playful or aggressive. Should you come across a dog, slow down to walking pace. Keep your eyes on the dog but don’t stare it directly in the eyes as this could be seen as a challenge. If the dog begins to pace towards you, stop and face the dog, looking as confident and strong as you can. The dog may be feeling threatened by you, and far from wanting to fight you, simply wants you to leave. Start walking again, calmly away from the dog without turning your back on it. If it starts to pace towards you again, stop again and show that you are not afraid of it, nor are you threatening it. Move away slowly again until you are out of the dog’s territory.

If you happen to come across a pack of dogs, you can use the same techniques, but be aware that a pack of dogs is far more dangerous than a lone stray. Do not allow yourself to be backed into a corner and if the dogs give chase, try to attract help. If they begin to bite you, fall to the floor and protect your face and neck until the attack is over.

When doing any kind of exercise, it’s important to make sure that you give your body a good workout, but don’t overdo it. Talk to your doctor about your regime and monitor your performance with a fitness tracker or heart rate monitor – you can read about which would be more suitable for you at Fitness Exact.

Aside from these small concerns, exercising in the outdoors is one of the most satisfying things we can do each day. It definitely beats staring at a wall in a gym, watching the numbers go up on a treadmill or elliptical trainer. Give it a go sometime soon – you won’t be disappointed!