Five safety tips for exercising outdoors

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

A systematic review of existing studies has revealed that the benefits of being active outdoors include a decrease in tension, confusion, anger and depression. There are also reports of greater enjoyment, satisfaction and likelihood to repeat exercise when conducted outdoors rather than an indoor environment.

Before you hit the park or beach, here are five helpful tips to make your outdoor exercise experience a safe one.

1. Exercise with a buddy or in a group

A large part of the enjoyment factor of exercising outdoors involves the social aspect of engaging with others in the green environment. Exercising with a buddy or a group of people is also important in case of an emergency. The most likely emergency scenario for a person with diabetes is hypoglycaemia. Ensure your group or buddy knows you have diabetes, is aware of the signs and symptoms of hypoglycaemia (dizziness, blurred vision, shakiness, confusion) and knows how to help in an emergency (ensuring that you consume a fast acting carbohydrate such as jellybeans or a fruit drink).

2. Make yourself familiar with your surroundings

Being aware of the environment in which you are exercising is extremely important. Before you start exercising check for major hazards such as traffic, dangerous animals, or a cliff edge. Look out for minor hazards such as uneven ground and tripping risks. Research the area before you arrive at the location, or take a slow walk around the area before you start your exercise.

3. Carry hypo treatment & a BGL meter

For an individual with diabetes who is on insulin or takes medication which can cause hypoglycaemia it is important to carry fast acting glucose. It is also useful to have a meter to check blood glucose levels during activity because exercise can lower your blood glucose levels.

4. Be sun smart

One of the most overlooked precautions to take while moving outdoors is being sun safe. This involves wearing a hat, wearing sunglasses, applying sunscreen and possibly covering up prior to starting your workout. During the warmer months, it is also recommended to avoid exercise in the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest.

5. Stay hydrated

It is essential to stay hydrated when exercising. Taking a bottle of water while training outdoors or having easy access to water is important, as being exposed to the elements can put you at an increased risk of dehydration.

Summer is a great time to get out in the natural environment and enjoy the positive benefits of outdoor exercise. Whether it is a park, beach, oval or a walking track in a national park, remember the safety precautions to ensure a happy, safe and enjoyable experience.

You don’t need to be an athlete, you just need to move a little more than you did yesterday.

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