Four Ways to Stay Safe and Alert When Exercising Outdoors



runRunner safety. That’s a hot topic these days. It seems that every week there’s a new story on a runner who came to grief while simply trying to work out. It happens in popular running spots. It happens in broad daylight. It happens when the runner is doing everything the “right” way.

We’ve all heard the advice to run or work out in pairs or with a group. That is a great deterrent, but what about those who lack versatility in their schedule and work out at unpopular times or simply prefer to exercise alone?

Plus, running isn’t the only outdoor exercise. With warm weather on the horizon, many of our clients will want to do their between-session workouts outdoors. The sad fact is that there is no foolproof way to stay out of trouble. The good news is that there are things to be done to defend oneself and stay alert.

Here are some important safety tips we can share with clients to get them thinking about safety.


Go High Tech

There are so many safety apps and devices to choose from these days. Garmin’s fitness tracker works with Bluetooth and alerts pre-selected contacts when movement stops for a specified amount of time.

Bsafe, a downloadable app, sounds a siren, immediately notifies contacts and provides precise location plus videos the scene.

There are many others, and a quick search through a phone’s app store will list a selection of safety apps.

Of course, notification of an incident is one thing, trying to prevent or escape an incident is something different. Though they take some effort, suggest these:


Take a Self-Defense Class

Lessons learned from a recent self-defense class saved a Washington state runner who ran into trouble. When she stopped for a natural break, an attacker sprang from a bathroom stall and met his match in an intense struggle. The runner escaped. (read more on that story.)

Clients can check with local martial arts centers to find classes. Many offer basic self-defense. Also, though all locations don’t carry them, checking with the local YMCAs might uncover some classes.

Preparation is a great defense.


Forego Music / Trust Your Gut

Some people report difficulty enjoying a workout sans music. Others say music ruins the outdoor experience. Whatever the personal preference, there is no doubt that music detracts from attention given to surroundings and can promote tunnel vision.

Recommend trying, at least a few times, enjoying the sounds of nature and overall environment during the workout.

But, even after doing all the above, even on a blindingly bright day, if gut says something is wrong, listen to it.


Find Different Places to Exercise

It’s nice to find something that works, but those set-your-watch-to-it routines don’t go unnoticed by others. That can be a good thing (neighbors, friends, and family know about when to expect comings and goings), but, it can simultaneously be a not-so-great thing.

Strangers shouldn’t know they can find you Monday, Tuesday, and Friday at 5:15 somewhere near the fourth bench on a serene tree-lined trail. So, recommend mixing it up. Besides adding a layer of unpredictability, different views will help exercise stay fresh and exciting.


Next Steps:

Safety is an important matter! Add to this list by sharing your safety tips with fellow trainers on the NFPT Facebook page.

NFPT-certified trainers, be sure to join the Facebook group for discount codes, job opportunities, and to get and give advice in your professional trainer community!


Tanisha Rule has a BA in English and is a former Mad Dogg-certified Spinning instructor. She taught indoor cycle and boot camp and has now combined her passions as a full-time writer for the health and fitness industries, check out her site at If she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found happily training for an endurance event, likely after having said, “This is my last one for a while,” because there is no finish line; there is only progress.