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Walking Safety Tips

Getting Off To a Good Start

-- By Jen Mueller & Nicole Nichols, Fitness Experts
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Outdoor Walking Safety Tips
Walking outside is a great way to enjoy the fresh air and get a workout at the same time! Before you lace up those sneakers, here are some important safety tips you’ll want to consider if you head outdoors to walk.
  • Find a buddy. Walking with someone can be a great motivator and make the time more enjoyable. But more importantly, there is always safety in numbers. If you walk alone, make sure you tell someone your route and the time you expect to return.
  • Dress to be seen. If you will be outside early morning or later evening, wear light colored clothing or reflectors. A lot of workout attire has reflective materials built in, such pants or jackets with reflective strips, walking shoes with reflective material on the heel, or reflective belts (available at most sporting goods stores). All of these will help you be more visible to oncoming traffic. Also try to walk on well-lit streets as much as possible.
  • Walk facing the traffic. Especially if there are no sidewalks or pathways on your route, the rules of the road say you should walk against the traffic. This way, you can see the traffic coming and be aware of any potential danger coming toward you.
  • Vary your route. This is for safety as well as enjoyment. It is much more interesting to experience different surroundings from time to time. This also prevents anyone else from memorizing your whereabouts or routine.
  • Beware of drivers. Do not assume that drivers know when pedestrians have the right of way. Walk with awareness and caution, assuming that no drivers see you. Be especially cautious of driveways—most drivers are watching for oncoming cars, not walkers.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Watch for ice, water, bike riders, cracks in the pavement, or any other hazards in your path. It can be very easy to trip and fall without warning, which can be especially dangerous if you are alone.
In addition to these safety tips, there are a few things that every walker should bring for their outdoor walk, as well as a few things that you can leave at home.

What to Bring It is a good idea to carry pepper spray and cell phone (or alarm) in case you get into trouble. It can also be helpful to carry a walking stick (in case you need to fend off an unleashed dog) or umbrella (in case of sudden rain). If you have a dog, bring it along for companionship and safety! Always have your I.D. with you in the event that you become injured or disabled.

What NOT to Bring Do not wear any jewelry that might draw someone’s attention. Do not wear headphones—they can prevent you from hearing oncoming traffic or someone coming up behind you. You should always be aware of what is happening in your environment.

By following these easy tips, you’ll make your walking experience as safe and enjoyable as possible!
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About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is a certified personal trainer, certified health coach and advanced health & fitness specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

Member Comments

  • When I walk outside I text my husband at the beginning, midpoint, and end of my journey. Sometimes I send pics which is fun, and I let him know what I am wearing. It's also good to find out where registered sex offenders are living in your area so that you can avoid those streets. - 6/25/2013 12:36:41 PM
  • I take pepper spray, I hate to have to carry a bunch of stuff, but my phone goes too. Just can't be too sure these days.... - 6/10/2013 8:38:28 AM
  • I wear one earplug in one for me. - 4/16/2013 5:04:45 AM
  • How do you listen to walking music if you shouldn't wear headphones? - 11/7/2012 9:27:41 AM
  • I once was walking during my lunch break on a nice sunny day. A car slowed pulled beside me with a very polite gentleman looking for directions to the court house. After I gave him the directions he appeared to be very confused and asked to borrower my cell phone. I lied and said I didn't have on me.Then the man asked me to get in the car so that I can show him the way to the court house because he didn't know the area. After repeatly saying no, he finally drove away. It was really scary!

    So you never can be too careful because stuff like this happens in braod daylight! A cell phone and pepper spray is always good to have on hand. - 6/11/2012 10:55:50 AM
  • I take my husband to the park with me. He watches me to make sure I'm OK and walks the warm up and cool down with me to pace me. - 5/26/2012 7:51:44 AM
  • I run & ride my bike in the woods. I need to be able to hear everything. More than once I've heard something, well before I've seen it. As a woman, alone in a secluded area, you can never be too careful. - 5/16/2012 5:53:18 PM
  • When I cross a street I make eye contact with the driver making sure he/she sees me before crossing in front of them. - 5/2/2012 10:21:24 AM
    Great article. The pedometer actually does keep me motivated. But I do wear my headphones but keep volume low so I can hear what's going on.

    I also have pepper spray now because in my walking I've come across coyotes but they are usually alone. I've also seen deer, possum, skunks, raccoons, lots of bunnies. And I live in the suburbs!! - 4/15/2012 9:41:54 AM
    Thanks for the tips. Although most of these tips are for people walking in a city setting. I live in a very rural area. I rarely see people or cars on my walks so no need for mace/pepper spray, it would just piss off the bears & wolves. LOL - 2/1/2010 2:18:20 PM
  • Thanks for the warning of taking a cell phone, etc. My dd runs in our "nice" neighborhood, but she has a WHISTLE, mace and a C.P. I often go with her and ride my bike. We checked on-line and found that "registered offenders" live within 2 miles of us, and we live in a "nice" area. - 11/9/2008 2:27:37 PM
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