A Guest Article from Jason Lewis (Strongwell.org):
Whether you’re a novice exerciser who’s just getting started or a seasoned pro who’s fit as a fiddle, it’s possible to find yourself in a dangerous situation while exercising outdoors. When you exert yourself outside, you’re not only battling yourself and your body’s limitation – but you’re battling the elements as well. Even though the chances are good that you can exercise safely, there are some worst-case scenarios that you should be aware of. It truly is better to be safe than sorry. Here’s how to keep yourself safe from a few major outdoor exercising dangers.
Spotting a wild animal in the woods
A lot of outdoor exercising will take place in wooded areas – hiking, trail running, kayaking, etc. There, the chances you’ll run into a wild animal are greatly increased. What do you do if you happen upon a wild animal?
The first thing you should do is to keep a safe distance. Never approach a wild animal, even one that seems “cute” or “docile” like a deer. This is not only for your safety but for theirs as well. As Redfin.com points out, wild animals need to retain a sense of skepticism or even fear of humans in order to survive. The more they feel comfortable encroaching upon humans, the more at risk they become.
Most wild animals are not going to chase you or attack you unless they fear for their own life or the lives of their young. Always be aware of your surroundings so that you don’t accidentally stumble upon a wild animal’s nest or home. Bears are one exception where the “turn around a quickly walks away” strategy may not always be the best strategy. Sometimes, making yourself tall and making noise is the right call. Check here for more on bear encounters.
Heat stroke and hypothermia
The elements can be just as dangerous if not more so than wild animals. You must be aware of the signals your body is sending you to avoid succumbing to danger on either end of the spectrum. Heat stroke is basically hyperthermia – your body overheating. It can be caused by exposure to heat and the sun, and by excess physical exertion. To avoid heat stroke, always stay hydrated and take breaks in the shade/cooler area if you begin to feel lightheaded, thirsty, develop a headache, or feel confused or nauseous.
Hypothermia is a dangerous drop in body temperature and can occur even if it’s not freezing outside – if there’s a lot of wind and low humidity. The main thing to do when exercising outdoors to avoid hypothermia is to wear moisture-wicking clothing. Cotton, for example, is bad because it holds onto water and being cold and wet is a recipe for hypothermia.
Deep and severe cuts and scrapes
There’s a decent chance that if you spend a lot of time working out outdoors, you’ll fall, run into something sharp, and give yourself a pretty bad laceration or scrape. If so, you should stop your workout immediately, head home, and treat the wound as soon as possible. Pressure and elevation will stop the bleeding. After that, wash out the wound and apply an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection. Cover the wound. If the wound is deep and dirty, you may consider a tetanus booster shot.
Remember, your wound may need stitches. Here’s how to tell.
Chances are you’ll enjoy years of outdoor exercise without running into these major dangers – but they do happen to people of all fitness and skill levels. When you push your body in the elements and venture off the beaten path, you’re more likely to face injury. All you can do is be knowledgeable and prepared.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com