Walking is a fun and easy way to get your heart pumping and to explore the world around you.
But, like many other physical activities, there are some risks involved.
Here are a few things you can do during your next hike to make sure
that you or your walking group stay safe and have a good time.
Walk on the Pavement
When walking near roads or high-traffic streets, the pavement is absolutely
the safest place to be.
Not only will you be well out of the way of any passing cars,
following the pavement also means you'll be crossing the road at the safest places.
Drivers will expect you to cross at an established crossing,
and they may not always watch for walkers in the middle of a long stretch of road.
If you're walking alongside a road and no pavement is available,
make sure you walk toward oncoming traffic.
This way, you can see cars as they approach and take evasive action if necessary.
Dress for the Environment
When you're planning a trip on foot, wearing the proper clothing
for the climate is just as important as any other preparation.
In hot weather, shorts and a t-shirt or tank top will reduce the risk of overheating.
In cold weather you may want a coat or jacket depending on how severe the weather is,
and long, insulated trousers or jeans.
The time of day you'll be traveling is another factor to consider before leaving your home.
During daylight hours it's recommended that you wear brightly coloured clothing
so you can be easily spotted by drivers.
At night, however, drivers are less likely to see pedestrians
and don't expect to see people walking around in the first place,
so it is highly recommended that you wear reflective material and light-coloured clothing.
Know the Signs of Fatigue
Walking for extended periods can take its toll, especially in the heat of summer.
Heat exhaustion, brought on by our bodies being overheated and dehydrated,
is an issue walkers commonly face.
The best way to avoid heat exhaustion is to bring plenty of water with you.
If you feel a sudden onset of dizziness, muscle cramps, headache, nausea or weakness,
stop in a cool place to rest immediately.
Bring Along Emergency Gear
If you have a severe allergy to something that could potentially
be triggered by an environmental condition such as a bee allergy or a certain pollen,
it goes without saying that you should bring an emergency pack
containing whatever medication has been prescribed to you.
This also includes people who are prone to asthma attacks and people
who are taking any medications to treat or reduce the risk of any life-threatening issues.
And as always, in case of an emergency, having a mobile phone or signal whistle
to flag down passers-by is recommended for any walker.
As long as you bring along everything that you need and are
careful to pay attention to your surroundings, walking or hiking
is a perfectly safe way to exercise.
Remember to cut down on distractions such as mobile phones and portable media players
as much as possible, as these can take your attention away from the world around you.