It’s a beautiful, brisk summer morning. There’s a cool breeze of air softly kissing your skin. The sun has just peaked over the horizon and it’s the perfect time to go for a quiet, morning stroll. Without any hesitation, you make your way out the door and off you go. You’re enjoying yourself, the breeze, the birds singing, observing the flowers in bloom, but suddenly the breeze is gone, the intensity of the sun begins to make you sweat, and the next thing you know you’re feeling very hot without any shade in sight to save you.
At that moment, you feel a lump in your throat as you realize just how far away from home you are. You don’t have any water with you, no hat for shade, and worst of all…you forgot to bring your phone. As the heat rises, panic begins to set in…
Walking Outdoors with Confidence
Putting yourself in that scenario is scary, isn’t it? In my experience as a Geriatric Kinesiologist and founder of Walk With Pop, the hard truth is that I see it happen all of the time, especially within older communities. Life-threatening heatstrokes, faints, and falls become more common as the weather gets warmer. In this article, you’ll learn three life-saving tips that are beneficial, and easy to apply.
Three simple habits that can save your life
#1: Always carry a hat
Whether you wear it or not, having a hat is handy. Like the scenario above, hats can provide instant shade and overheating when the sun suddenly picks up. A hat with ventilation lets the heat escape from the scalp, keeping you cool and comfortable. Visors and wide brim hats like those for gardening are also excellent for UV protection and sunburns. In any event, the hat can be used as a fan, too.
#2: Water, Water, Water
Carrying a water bottle with you is essential and a non-negotiable. The human body dehydrates during activity even when there is no visible sweat. When it comes to walking outdoors, having water with you is absolutely important, not only to drink but also in case of an emergency. Remember in the scenario when there was no shade and you felt extra hot? Drinking water hydrates you internally, and pouring water on you externally cools you off. If you ever feel faint, splashing water over your head can temporarily keep you from overheating. Buying a reusable water bottle and carrying it with you is not only a benefit to you but also to the planet!
#3: Never leave without your Emergency Identifiers
If you have pets, you understand the reasoning behind their name tag. In case they get lost, someone knows who to contact and can return them back to you. You are just as important. We always want to be prepared for the worst-case scenario, especially when we’re alone. If you have any kind of health conditions or concerns, even more so a reason to be prepared.
Emergency identifiers are:
If you have gone too far, feeling faint, scared, anxious, or worst-case, you fall and are severely injured, a passerby can get you immediate help and medics will know your health information to assist you correctly. This tip is the most crucial.
Companion Walking as a Bonus
Walking alone can be awesome, a slice of peace at times, yet when you are open to it, walk together! Let it be with a pet, a friend, spouse, neighbor, sibling, child, or grandchild, you name it! When you feel weary or want to test distance, walking with someone else can bring comfort, security, and socialization. Not only does walking together create safety, but research also shows that companion walking improves loneliness, depression, and isolation.
The Bottom Line
What I want you to take away from this article is that walking alone can lead to potentially fatal accidents if not prepared. Being informed of the three life-saving tips mentioned in this article can decrease the chances of the worst-case scenario from happening. Nature can be unpredictable and it is always good to be safe rather than sorry.
New services coming on the market are making walking together more readily available, easy, and accessible. Walk With Pop, a California-based company, provides convenient and safe support in helping older adults get outside for a walk with a new friend. Older adults are paired with vetted, and trained companions to walk and talk together in the comfort of their neighborhood. Although based out of California, the company plans to expand nationwide with rollouts coming to select cities in the coming months. To learn more and nominate your city, sign up at https://walkwithpop.com.
Taking care of yourself is first and foremost; ensure your safety and well-being on your next walk outdoors!
About the Author
Mercedes Fernandez is a Geriatric Kinesiologist and is the founder of Walk With Pop. She helps older adults feel included and connected with others through companion walking. She holds a master’s degree in Kinesiology with an extensive pre-medical background in psychology, anatomy, and nutrition. She is a certified senior fitness instructor and authorized CPR/First Aid responder under the American Red Cross. Along with her professional experience, Mercedes was also her grandfather's primary caregiver, enriching her personal experience of senior health care. Her deeply rooted passion to serve older adults began from an early age where she played piano at nursing homes at the age of 8. Today, Mercedes continues to have deep care and compassion for older adults and advocates for adequate senior health care.