Outdoor exercise offers the same physical benefits of a gym exercise but with the added therapeutic benefits that being out in nature provides. Exercising outside alone, however, can also present safety and health hazards you should be prepared for. Unpredictable and sudden changes in weather, hazardous and uneven roads, muggers and irresponsible drivers and other dangers abound. Here are four tips on how to have a safe and effective solo outdoor exercise routine.

1. Wear the Right Exercise Clothes

Wearing denim jeans or the wrong heeled shoes can lead to accidents and injuries while exercising. The wrong set of clothes could strain the muscles or sprain joints. Wear loose, comfortable and supportive clothes that let you perform a full range of motions. For solo running, especially for early morning or late afternoon jogs, wear reflective clothing that makes you more visible on the road.

2. Prepare for the Weather

Extreme weather conditions can force you to make risky snap decisions that can endanger your safety. The night before your planned outdoor exercise, check the weather forecast on your phone. Today’s weather apps are highly accurate and can give you an hour-by-hour forecast. If you expect it to be extremely cold or hot when you’re exercising outdoors, dress accordingly and time your exercise so that you’re outside when it’s cooler or warmer.

3. Have a Route

Having a route or regular spot to exercise in minimizes your exposure to dangerous elements. Keep your route within public areas that have high foot traffic and are well-lit. Avoid running or working out in public spaces that have blind spots or sketchy characters. Choose a popular local park that’s frequented by families. These spaces are often safe, clean and well-maintained.

4. Check Your Equipment

At least a day before your planned exercise, check the condition of any equipment you’re planning to bring and use. If you’re driving to a state park or hiking area, check your car for any mechanical issues, such as flat tires, a dead battery or broken warning lights. If you’re driving alone to exercise somewhere remote, having a working vehicle can make the difference between safely getting back and getting stranded and exposed to the outdoor elements. Charge your smartphone and other electronics you plan to bring.

Final Thoughts

Exercising outdoors is something people take for granted. Few people make the preparations to safely exercise outside. And while in most cases, the person makes it unscathed, cases of injury and harm remain within the realm of possibilities. Other things you should do when exercising solo and outdoors include keeping yourself hydrated, telling at least one other person where you plan to exercise at and stretching before doing any strenuous exercises.