As far as summer is concerned, we are headed for the home stretch 🙁 Fear not, there is still a lot of time and great weather left to get outdoors, enjoy nature, and improve your health. I had a blog about another topic ready to go. However, the recent disturbing trends that I have seen while on the “track” at the park changed my mind. I get it. Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know. Hopefully, these tips will help you, and others, stay safe.
Tip #1 – Don’t smoke! (I can’t even believe I have to put this in black and white.) A few weeks ago, in the middle of a heatwave, I saw a woman on the track smoking a cigarette. I had to look twice because I couldn’t believe my eyes. Smoking? No, no and NO! Whatever physical benefit this woman was seeking by being out on the track in the first place was now null and void. We already know that smoking is bad for you (and the people around you as well). The warning on the package is there for a reason people. When it comes to discussions about health and wellness, you will never hear anyone say “cut back” on smoking. Nope. The message is STOP! This woman had two strikes against her – the effects of smoking in her body and the extra strain on her breathing as she smoked while walking on an extremely hot day. By the way, where did she plan to dispose of that cigarette? (remember – heatwave, park, dry grass, and forest-like surroundings). I immediately thought about the possibility of a fire. Please – don’t smoke at the park or anywhere else. Your heart, your lungs, your family, your friends, and your bank account will thank you.
Tip #2 – Stay hydrated! Hydration is extremely important. However, the liquid your body needs is WATER. I saw a man walking the track with a big bottle of soda. I was also hopeful that there was water inside the coffee cup a lady was carrying. Our bodies are primarily composed of water. Most people walk around in a state of dehydration and don’t know it. By the time you realize it or an ER doctor contributes this problem to your health emergency, it’s too late. Did you know that the large amounts of sugar in soda (as well as in sports/energy drinks and juices) are contributing to the obesity epidemic? To further complicate matters, many times we misread thirst cues as hunger cues. As a result, we reach for something to eat when our body is crying out, “Help! I’m parched!” Please drink water before, during, and after your workout. (Bonus tip: You should consume half your weight in water each day.)
Tip #3 – Follow the rules of the “road!” The track I frequent is a multi-use park used by a variety of people engaged in various activities. There are walkers and runners, bikers and skaters, dogs on leashes and babies in strollers, individuals and groups, etc. Driving rules apply – walk/run/bike/skate on the right and pass on the left. This may seem like a minor issue, but it’s big because safety is involved. Think about it – a person moving at a fast pace (i.e. bike, skates, on foot) will have a harder time coming to a stop or maneuvering around someone. I’ve been in situations where I needed to pass a couple/group from behind at the same time that a person coming toward the couple/group needed to pass. It gets to be tricky and dangerous when that couple/group is walking in the middle of the “road.” It’s an accident waiting to happen that can be avoided. Please walk on the right and pass on the left.
And, if you are out with your dog, obey the signage: “Dogs on leash at all times except where posted.” My park has a really nice doggie playground. Here, furry four-legged friends can run and play without being on a leash. However, on the track, leashes are required. You don’t know if someone has an allergy or an aversion to your beloved pet. I don’t want to hear that your dog doesn’t bite. If the dog has teeth, the potential to bite exists and I don’t go to the park for that type of encounter. Please obey the rules.
Tip #4 – Don’t wear scents! Why would you go to the park to workout wearing perfume or cologne? Scents are a great way to attract insects that sting, buzz in your ears, get in your face, and are just overall annoying. Additionally, some people are sensitive to smells and can become sick. This is especially true of people who are undergoing medical treatments, such as chemotherapy for cancer. Remember, you are outside sharing a public space with others. Please be thoughtful and save the scents for after the workout. (really after the shower! LOL)
Look for part 2 of this blog next week. If you are already adhering to these tips, THANKS! If not, please consider implementing them the next time you lace up and head to the park. Your health and safety, and that of others, really does matter!