Walk Smart, and Walk Safe

Walking is one of the safest exercise activities you can do, but you still need to be careful to avoid injury and stay safe while doing it. Let's look at some tips for staying safe and injury free. Avoid walking at night in the dark. It’s one thing to walk with a group at night so you stay personally safe, but another consideration is obstacles and uneven surfaces that you might miss if you walk in the dark. It’s very easy to step in holes or trip over objects on sidewalks or roads if you can’t see them. Walk facing traffic, and look both ways before crossing the street. Traffic should be coming toward you while you’re walking so you can take evasive action if necessary. Stay as close to the left as you can, and if a sidewalk is nearby, use it. No matter where you are or how secluded the area, always look both ways before crossing roads or streets. If oncoming vehicles will have difficulty seeing you, such as on the crest of a hill, be sure to walk single file as far away from traffic as you can. If you're on a specified walking trail, you'll walk on the right side, keeping close to the edge. Fast cyclists will not be able to avoid colliding with you if you suddenly move to the center of the trail or make a wide turnaround. Always pay attention to your surroundings. Keep your eyes moving as you’re walking, and regularly look behind you, or walk backwards for a short distance if it’s safe. Criminals target people who appear to be distracted or unaware of their surroundings. For this reason, do not use your cell phone while you’re walking. Go into a building and keep an eye on what’s going on around you before you make a call. If you become uncomfortable or feel as if you’re in danger, find a policeman or a populated area immediately. If you wish to listen to music, use a single ear bud so you can hear what’s going on around you with the other ear. Ensure your shoes are of high quality and fit well. It’s tempting to buy inexpensive shoes at a discount store, but keep in mind how much work your feet do when you walk, especially if you’re covering long distances. You want to be sure your feet are well protected with good shoes and socks. If you buy new shoes, wear them around the house for a few hours over several days before you walk in them. Sometimes the heels or toes chafe, and you don’t want to be 3 miles from home and have that happen. Make sure everyone can see you. Wear brightly colored clothing, and don’t be shy about waving to drivers and bikers so they know you are there. If you’re walking at night, be sure your clothing is reflective and light colored. If you don’t feel well, STOP. Don’t push yourself if you feel unwell. If you're not a spring chicken, it's wise to know the signs of heart attack or stroke. It's also a good idea to understand the symptoms of heat exhaustion so if you start exhibiting the symptoms, you’ll know what to do. If you tend to cramp up, talk to your doctor about it—if there isn’t a medical problem, he or she will suggest ways to avoid or reduce the pain. Staying safe while walking is simple if you use a little common sense and stay aware of what is going on around you and inside you.


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