Public health officials have been encouraging Americans of all ages to walk and bike more to decrease obesity and improve overall health. Now that the weather is warmer, we just might be inclined to follow their advice.
On beautiful days, it’s tempting to just throw on your jogging shoes and go for a quick run, or dust off the bike for a nice ride and not think twice about safety.
Not only do you need to be aware of safety but also what do if you possibly encounter a dangerous situation. Here are some things to consider before you head outside:
First, decide where you are going to go and if possible have someone go with you. Going on bike rides or a quick jog is a great reason to invite a friend or loved one. If you do go by yourself, let someone else know where you are going and provide them with details on where you plan to go. While planning your route, avoid deserted or dangerous areas. Try to stay near paths that are more populated and well lit. Vary your route and the time of day so you are not as predictable. Avoid unfamiliar areas, but if you are trying a new path or route make mental notes of emergency phones, and safe businesses. Also, carry some I.D. and change just in case you need to make a phone call.
Before you leave the house make sure you have all the proper equipment and clothing. If you are going jogging, especially in the early morning or at dusk, wear bright colors and reflective clothing. Pretty much all athletic stores carry reflective belts, blinking lights and headlights for you or your bike and these simple items will make you more visible to drivers. If you are planning on using your bike, wearing a helmet should be as automatic as putting on your seat belt. Even if you are only planning on staying in your neighborhood, wear a helmet, oblivious drivers are everywhere.
During your jog or bike ride do not listen to music and always stay alert. The more aware you are of your surroundings, the less vulnerable you are. If you are jogging, run against traffic so you will be able to watch the on coming traffic. If you are riding a bike, it is safer to go with the flow of traffic because it is easier for a driver to spot you as they approach. If you see the same vehicle more than once, make a note of the license plate and description of vehicle. Always be thinking of escape routes in case you are faced with a dangerous situation.
Also, pay attention to those around you. Keep track of those in front of you or behind you, don’t be afraid to let people know that you are aware of them. Avoid running near parked cars, thick bushes and trees (especially at night). Use discretion in acknowledging strangers. Be friendly, but keep your distance and keep moving. Never approach a car to give directions, or the time of day. If you must, while still moving, point toward the nearest police or information source.
When in doubt, follow your gut instincts. If something seems dumb, different or dangerous don’t panic but do get out of there as quickly as possible. As long as you are prepared and take precautions, your day should be filled with happy and enjoyable moments. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy your day!
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