Women who enjoy being outdoors and exercising will reap the many benefits, including fresh air, increased fitness levels, and more. However, women who jog, walk or run alone are also potentially placing themselves at risk of assault. One way to lessen the risk of assault is by using the buddy system, but this may not always be a feasible option for many women. Here are five important safety tips that you should follow if you intend to jog, walk or run outdoors alone.
- Always carry a cell phone and identification. Many women prefer to not be weighed down by any extras while they are working out, but carrying your cell phone will provide an extra level of safety in the event you are uncomfortable or approached by a stranger. It can also come in handy if you need to call for a ride in the event of a twisted ankle or surprise thunder storm! Even if you must walk or run alone, it is wise to let someone know when you left, where you intend to go, and when you expect to return. That way, if you are not back when expected, your potential whereabouts may be more obvious.
- Consider your routine: While most joggers, walkers and runners have established routes that they prefer to follow, it is wise to vary your route and routine regularly. Avoid going on the exact same route at the exact same time each day. Doing so can make you a potentially “easy mark” for an attacker. When your location is a bit less predictable, you may be able to avoid being followed on your regular route.
- Always be aware: Stay acutely aware of your surroundings at all times. Many women like to listen to music through headphones while walking, running or jogging, and enjoy “getting in the zone.” Don’t let this zone interfere with your awareness. Notice if the same car passes you multiple times. Notice if someone is following you or appears to be watching you. Notice if a car slows nearby. Call the police at once if you are concerned, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Above all, remember what your mother told you when you were younger, and don’t talk to strangers.
- Stay in populated areas: Most attacks on runners or walkers tend to occur in parks or on less traveled paths. Although these are often very pleasant places to exercise, never travel in these locations alone, regardless of how safe you perceive the area to be.
- Carry a self-defense product, such as pepper spray or a stun gun. And, know how to use it. These non-lethal, inexpensive and small products can allow you to deter an attacker long enough for you to get away, by using just one quick and painful spray to their face. This weapon will also come in handy in the event you come across an aggressive dog that starts to follow or chase you.
Don’t avoid getting your exercise in the great outdoors, just be smart and safe about it! Common sense should always prevail when you are walking, jogging or running.