Stay safe while out for your next stroll with these helpful tips.
Walking is a wonderful way to stay active and enjoy the outdoors, and as a bonus, it offers a wide variety of health benefits.
Whether you walk for exercise, leisure, or with a purpose to reach a destination, it’s essential to follow some walking safety tips on your journey. Being aware of potential risks and taking the right precautions can help you stay safe and secure as you stroll down the sidewalks, trails, or roads in your area.
Our top walking safety tips include:
- Dress for visibility
- Carry a light
- Stick to designated paths when possible
- Tell someone your route
- Observe traffic rules
- Remain aware of your surroundings
- Check the weather
- Join a walking group
Let’s learn more about these walking safety tips below. As with any physical activity, please check with your doctor before starting a new walking routine.
Dress for visibility
When you’re walking in any public area, it’s important to make sure you’re visible to any drivers or cyclists who might cross your path. Choose brightly colored clothing that will stand out from your surroundings. Try to avoid black or gray clothing, which blends in with pavement, or green shades that can match the grass or trees. Reflective accessories like vests or wrist and ankle bands can provide an extra layer of protection when walking near traffic.
Carry a light
It’s best to try to plan your walks during daylight hours — but if early mornings or evenings are the only time you can fit in a walking routine, it’s important to add in some safety precautions. Choose well-lit paths and avoid overly dim or shadowy areas which may feature unseen tripping hazards. Add a headlamp or flashlight to your ensemble in addition to the bright clothing.
Stick to designated paths when possible
When you’re walking in populated areas, always use sidewalks or designated pedestrian paths if they’re available. Some roads don’t have sidewalks attached, so if this is the case and you can’t find an alternative walking route, stay as far over on the lane’s shoulder as you can. Walk facing traffic so you can see vehicles approaching, and they can see you. In the case of nature walks, stay on marked trails to avoid losing your direction, and plan to have a map printed or downloaded on your phone.
Tell someone your route
Whether you walk the same route every day or you like to mix it up, let somebody in your life know about your plans. Inform a family member, friend, or housemate about where you’ll be walking and when you expect to be back. This ensures that someone knows your whereabouts if any unforeseen circumstances arise, like sudden changes in weather, a fall, getting lost, etc. When you’re home safe and sound, check in with your chosen person to let them know. An even better option — bring them with you and walk as a pair!
Observe traffic rules
As a pedestrian, the best thing you can be is predictable. Use crosswalks and pay attention to traffic signs and signals, especially in busy areas. Even though pedestrians have the right of way in many situations, it’s best to “walk defensively” rather than assuming drivers will notice you or stop in time. Looking left, right, and then left again before stepping off the curb is the best tried-and-true precaution whenever you need to cross the street. Try to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them, as this confirms that they see you, and practice extra caution when walking through parking lots.
Remain aware of your surroundings
On a related note, it’s important to use all your senses to help you stay aware of what’s going on around you. Try not to look down at your phone during your walk. If you enjoy listening to music or podcasts, turn the volume down or leave one earbud out so you can hear approaching vehicles, verbal signals from cyclists, animal sounds, or other noises. Turn your walk into a mindfulness challenge, noticing the little details of the sights, sounds, and scents of the world around you.
Check the weather
Before you set out to your destination, make sure to check the specific weather forecast of where you’ll be going. Walking safety tips can vary based on your location and the season.
For instance, here are some tips for safely exercising in the heat, like wearing sunscreen and staying hydrated. Cold weather safety tips are more along the lines of watching out for ice, choosing shoes with good traction, and wearing insulated clothing. Some days, it might just be safest to do an indoor activity instead.
Join a walking group
Walking in groups turns your exercise routine into a fun and social activity, and also enhances safety in the process. Having other people with you serves to deter potential threats and increase visibility. Ask around in your existing circle to see if anyone wants to join a weekly walking group with you or start a group on a platform like Meetup.com or Facebook to coordinate walks and meet new people.
Following these walking safety tips will help you get those steps every day risk-free! Learn more about how to start a walking routine here.