Walking Tips Part III: Safety Tips!

Healthcare professionals know how to recognize the symptoms of dehydration, heat exhaustion or other conditions that could cut a walk short. These are just a few preemptive strikes you can make before trouble has a chance to start. With a little planning, all of the bases, like staying clear of traffic, drinking enough water and wearing sunblock—are covered!  With any luck you’ve already read Walking Tips Part I and Part II to knock your next walk right out of the park!

Base 1 is Road safety: Most cities (just ask a staffer on one of your travel nurse jobs !) have designated walking areas where traffic is not a concern; however, some walk through high traffic neighborhoods; these are just a few tips for city walkers:

  • If your fitness path offers no sidewalks, choose to walk on the side facing oncoming traffic.
  • When preparing to cross an intersection, make eye contact with any drivers who may be turning. You want to make sure they see you!
  • Walk Single File. This is especially important on a road with lots curves; drivers see you better this way.
  • Be Visible! Wear bright clothes in the day, and orange or reflective clothing at night. For the best safety, your body’s entire outline should be reflective, so consider carrying a light or wearing a flasher.
  • Don't tune out with an iPod, headset or cellphone. You have to be able to hear what is coming up behind you, hear bike bells or approaching roller blades, joggers, etc.

Base 2 is Skin Safety: Ultraviolet rays that cause sun damage are strongest between 10am and 4pm. Dermatologists recommend avoiding V-neck shirts or any apparel that leaves skin vulnerable. Here are a few more tips:

  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. A minimum SPF of 15 is recommended.
  • Cover Up! Most clothes provide protection from the sun that is on par with an SPF 15; look into UV sun wear if you’re interested in something stronger.
  • Baseball caps are great for walking because the scalp and forehead are protected; just don’t forget to dab sunblock on exposed areas.
  • Wear sunglasses to reduce the risk of cataracts!

Base 3 is Hydration & Endurance Safety: Drink 2 cups of water (each cup 8 oz.) before your fitness walk—at least 2 hours beforehand, so that you get a bathroom break before setting out. Here are a few more water wise tips, including advice on endurance!

  • During your walk, bring portable water in a bottle that holds 4-6 ounces.
  • Take a drink every 15 to 20 minutes to keep your muscles well-hydrated.
  • If you are planning an hour-long walk, bring about 16 ounces (2 cups) water along.
  • Use the “talk test” to gauge if you’re going the right speed. If you can’t answer a question, you’re walking too fast; if you’re having an easy conversation, too slow.
  • If fitness walking is new to you, start small at 30 minutes, and gradually increase the duration of your workouts by 5 minutes each time.

You’ve Covered All the Bases and Hit a Homerun!

Healthy careers are a homerun! To keep batting 1,000, get to know the city you work in as a travel nurse; that way, you know the best places to walk—ideally, paths frequented by other walkers, joggers and bikers. If you see someone suspicious, be prepared to change course and enter a safe public place. Always carry a water bottle, wear your sun screen and keep a phone handy; but don’t talk, WALK!  Wishing you a winning summer season of fitness!

Footnote: Facts cited in this article were taken from, SparkPeople.com, WebMD and CDC skin cancer prevention tips. UV action wear can be found at coolibar.com.

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