Walking is one of the best exercises. And walking outdoors might be one of the only types of exercise that you can do in the current situation. While a year ago you might’ve been able to walk on a track or in a mall, these might not be an option right now. So I wanted to talk about how you can make sure that you are taking safety into account while walking outdoors.
I’ve enjoyed walking outdoors for a long time and have encountered various hazards. This list includes many dangers that I’ve encountered and some that I haven’t.
There are several things to consider when looking at walking safety. Let’s look at some of these so you can make sure that your walks are safe and enjoyable.
Walk during daylight
Walking during daylight is generally safer than after dark. It is easier to see hazards and it is easier to be seen. If you can, then walking during daylight is probably safer
Use a light if walking at night
If you are walking at night then a headlamp is a good idea. Especially one with a taillamp. Not only does the headlamp make it easier to see hazards, but the combination of the 2 lights makes it easier to see you.
Wear reflective clothing when walking at night
Reflective clothing also makes it easy to see you so this is a good choice when walking at night. In combination with a good headlamp and you’ll be seen for miles.
Limit headphone use
Walking with headphones might not be the best idea. You are less likely to hear traffic. What you are listening to can easily distract you and you might forget things like looking before you cross a street. And that brings us to…
Look both ways before you cross the street.
Yes, I know I sound like a mother. Because I am. Drivers are not looking out for pedestrians. They are looking for openings in traffic, or the light changing to green. You might have the right of way, and the moral high ground, but that doesn’t protect you from someone running a stop sign.
If you live in a high crime area, then it might not be safe to walk. You can increase safety by walking with a friend. Stick to daylight walks and well lit areas. You can find a different area to walk in which might mean driving to your walk.
Cold weather dangers
Cold weather shouldn’t keep you from walking but there are some precautions to take. Avoid frostbite by wearing warm gloves, boots and a hat or headband that covers your ears. Don’t walk too far from home on really cold walks so you can return if it gets too cold.
Pay attention to the direction of the wind when you start out. If you have the wind at your back on the way out. The way back into the wind could be quite unpleasant.
Watch out for icy sidewalks and streets. Sidewalks with a light covering of snow are especially dangerous because you can’t see the icy patches. Choose shoes or boots with good traction or use a traction grips that go over your shoes for extra traction.
Cold, sunny days and also make visibility difficult to pay attention when you are crossing streets. A driver with the low sun in their eyes might not see you.
Hot weather dangers
If it is very hot where you live, then this might make walking in the very early morning necessary to avoid the heat. If your walk is long, then you might need to bring along some water. Wear a hat to protect your face, and sunscreen if you need it.
Wildlife (and not so wild life)
This category of dangers includes four legged, flying and slithering creatures you might encounter. If you’ve ever been dive bombed by a hawk or had a little rat dog rip a chunk out of your knee, while out for a walk, you’ll understand the dangers.
Most of these dangers are specific to your area so I’m not going to go into the details, but before you head out to a natural area or a country road check out what wildlife might be found in the area.
Use shared pathways with caution
Many cities have pathways that are shared between cyclists, runners, walkers, urban polers and scooters. They are all going at different speeds and have different levels of control. If the pathway is crowded then don’t use headphones.
Holes, bumps and cracks
This is another list of hazards that fall into the pay attention category. Many of the sidewalks you will walk on will not be smooth. Watch out for hidden dangers like these. If you are like many women over 50, you may be in danger of breaking bones when you fall. Lower bone density is common in women over 50 and one of the best ways to prevent fractures is to prevent falls.
Blisters, tendinitis and sore knees
These could be considered minor inconveniences, instead of safety issues. But suffering from any of these might prevent you from walking or doing other exercise so they are worth mentioning. Make sure you have good, relatively new shoes. Don’t try to do too much if you are just starting. These tips will help you to have more enjoyable and safer walks.
This post wasn’t intended to scare you with the dangers of walking outdoors. So I hope I haven’t. Walking outdoors is great for physical and mental health. Ease into it slowly and wear appropriate shoes and clothing. And take precautions to stay safe.