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Follow the Road to Safety

No one is too young or too old to exercise. The United States Surgeon General recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, nearly every day. Exercising outdoors can be fun and enjoyable, but you should keep personal safety in mind before you head out the door.

These safety tips from the American Running Association apply not only to runners, but also to people who walk, bike, or inline skate. A big part of playing it safe is paying attention to where you choose to exercise. Keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Know your route. Be familiar with the area; know which businesses are open along your route.

  • Stay in the open. Walk in the middle of sidewalks, away from buildings or parked cars. If you're walking or running on the street, face traffic and watch oncoming vehicles. Run on the shoulder, if possible. If you think you're being followed by someone in a car, turn around and run the other way, staying on the same side of the street.

  • Be near people. When walking in the country or suburbs, avoid isolated or unpopulated areas.

  • Avoid isolated trails. Stay away from trails surrounded by heavy brush or dense trees, especially if they are not near a road.

  • Be unpredictable. Vary your walking or running route to help prevent boredom and predictability. No one should be able to count on you coming past a certain point at a specific time each day.

  • Don't walk alone. Find a buddy to exercise with.

  • Wait for daylight. It's also best to avoid walking at night or before sunrise in the morning. If you do exercise in the dark, do so with a friend, wear reflective clothing and follow a well-lit route.

  • Walk defensively and be alert. Headphones are fine if you're exercising on an indoor track or with a group of people, but outdoors they can distract you from your environment.

  • Carry identification. You should also carry an emergency phone number in a wrist pouch or on your shoes. Carry a police whistle to attract attention if necessary.