Stay safe while participating in outdoor activity

Outdoor activity safety tips submitted by Associate Professor Joanna L. Morrissey (Psychology & Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology) on behalf of UW-Green Bay Excercise is Medicine. Exercise is Medicine – On Campus is an initiative at UW-Green Bay that aims to encourage students, faculty, and staff to rise beyond the ordinary by moving often, moving well, and moving together toward a healthy life and community. Want to learn more? Visit our website and follow us on Instagram: @uwgb_eim

Staying active is a great way to achieve optimal physical and mental well-being. In order to experience positive health outcomes, aim to accumulate 150 minutes each week. A realistic approach to accumulating this amount is to be active 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Any activity counts and any amount of time counts so even if it is only five minutes, it still counts! Activity is about progress and accumulation. You can stay on top of both your physical and mental health by progressing toward the accumulation of 30 minutes throughout the day, five days a week.

Are you someone who enjoys being active outside? If so, remember that safety is important! During the fall months, we lose 1-3 minutes of daylight per day so safety become even more important as our days grow shorter. Here are a few tips that can help you stay safe as you get moving outside.

  1. Keep your headphones off or on low: While you might enjoy listening to music or a podcast while being active outdoors, remember that safety comes first! You want to be able to hear people approaching you or hear cars coming. Research has suggested that associating with the activity (I.e., being present with the activity) can enhance performance of the activity.
  2. Have an activity buddy: Safety in numbers! If there is danger a buddy can offer a sense of security. If you experience an injury or health-related event, a buddy can call for help. Sometimes we may lack the motivation to move so you can rely on your buddy to keep you accountable. Dogs count too. They are a real-life form of exercise equipment that cannot be ignored!
  3. Change it up: Do you see the same people during your activity routine? If so, other people are seeing you too! Varying the time of day or the location where you walk is a safe strategy because it prevents others from memorizing your routine.
  4. Invest in a Road ID: A Road ID is a safety identification tag that contains essential emergency information. These IDs come in the form of a bracelet or an anklet. You can also attach the ID to your shoe or even a rollerblade!
  5. Carry a whistle: Keep the safety odds in your favor! Animals are more likely to be out and about during the dawn, dusk and dark hours. While they may mean no harm, it is best to protect yourself so blow that whistle to have them retrieving to their home in nature. A whistle can also be used if you ever feel unsafe, sense danger, or need assistance from others.
  6. Be visible: There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing, right?! The same holds true for safety reasons. Wear bright clothes that includes reflective gear so that other people and cars can see you.
  7. Tell someone you are heading out: Many of us use activity and exercise as ‘me-time’. Or maybe you prefer solo activity!? If being active on your own is what you enjoy and/or prefer, that is great! We are more likely to adhere to activities that we find enjoyable and fulfilling. Just be sure to let someone know where you are going, how long you will be gone for, and to check back in with them once you have returned.

So yes, participating in outdoor activities is great for our mental and physical health. These benefits include: reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, better stress management, a greater sense of balance and self-esteem, fewer doctor visits, and lower levels of blood pressure and cholesterol. Exercise is medicine! If you take it outdoors, remember the tips above to be safe while being active.

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