The outdoors makes me happy, and, when working out, I typically aim for activities that take me out of the house. Indoors simply feels too restricting, too full of technology and distractions. Outside means freedom, sunshine and the fresh air…and so much space to explore.
If I could, I would climb boulders and hike on the daily. But, unfortunately, I live in the ‘burbs. So seeking out prime hiking spots—and those fantastic rocks—means quite a trip. But there are still a few good hiking trails and walking paths not far from home.
A daily dose of exercise is optimal for good health, and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that “adults aged 18–64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.” Hiking, cycling, running and even walking are great outdoor exercises to meet those physical fitness recommendations. But if you’re not careful, Mother Nature can throw you flat on your bottom—or much worse.
This month, Dr. Sarah Beadle, a 38-year-old wife, and mother, reportedly died of heat exhaustion while hiking near the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The temperatures were reported to have been around 100 degrees, and Beadle had been looking for a supply of water when it was believed, she took a wrong path.
Beadle was an experienced hiker, but one wrong path changed everything. When taking your fitness into the great outdoors, you have to dress for the climate and understand the landscape you’re about to trek. Most importantly, you also must be aware of your body’s needs and limitations…and know what to do in case you face an emergency like getting lost or even injured.
If you’re hiking in the heat, wear loose breathable clothing. Don’t wear black or any color that will add heat to the body. Wear appropriate shoes for the terrain—hiking boots for rugged areas, running shoes for pavement.
Heat zaps the water from your body. You need to stay hydrated when doing any form of physical activity in the heat. Pack a water bottle and make sure you know where you can find clean drinking water if you run out of water. Never hike in unfamiliar locations without knowing water resources. Plot out your path and allow for breaks to rehydrate. If your body is feeling weak, sit down and drink.
Pack a cell phone and communicate your location.
Cell signals are not always reliable, but you still should pack your phone. If you plan to head to a new area, be sure to tell a friend or relative where you’re hiking/walking/running. Give a time frame for your return. Tell them that you will call them when you finish your adventure. The key is to communicate so that if something happens, your general whereabouts is known.
Remember a First Aid Kit
A first aid kit isn’t a necessity if you happen to be running or walking around the neighborhood or in your local park. However, if you’re heading into a wooded hiking or walking trail, it’s a good idea to pack a few basic items in a backpack or small bag. Include a few bandages and ointment. Tie a bandana onto a belt loop or other area to use in case of emergency (a DIY tourniquet).
Take a Friend.
Exercising is more fun with a friend, and it’s also safer. Run or hike with a friend and watch out for each other. You also can take your furry friend—our puppies need exercise, too! However, smaller breeds might tire easily, so keep your eye out for any signs of exhaustion. And make sure any furry companions also stay hydrated. When I walk with my terrier, we always stop at drinking fountains to make sure she stays refreshed and cool!
Wherever you walk, run, hike or cycle…be safe! Stay hydrated, dress appropriately and always make sure someone knows if you’re heading somewhere remote. While the great outdoors can make for an exhilarating workout, you cannot and should not underestimate the risks of facing Mother Nature unprepared.
*Disclosure: This is a guest post by Naomi Shaw. No compensation was received. Opinions are the guest post authors only.