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How to keep fit in the city

Suzanne Elvidge is a writer, editor and proofreader specialising in healthcare, technology, business and eco-issues. You can visit her at www.pharmawrite.co.uk/.

Fitness for the city gal

Though you may not live in rural America where you can leave your house and run for miles down a dirt road, being a city gal doesn’t mean you can’t stay fit. Though city life is all about going hustle bustle, it also offers many convenient opportunities to get in a daily sweat. Here are the best ways to stay fit in urban locales – and you don’t even need to belong to a gym.

Woman running in city

Exercising outdoors

Despite the lack of countryside, you can still take your fitness outside – with a few safety precautions. If possible, cycle, walk or run to the office rather than driving or taking the subway or bus. If the office is too far, park in the furthest corner of the car park or get off public transportation at a stop or two from the office and walk.

Safety tips for outdoor exercise

Exercising outdoors has some added advantages – it allows the skin to make vitamin D, vital for your bones, and is good for mental health. But it does require being in tune with your surroundings and making sure your surroundings are aware of you.

1. Be visible

If you go out in the dark or on roads, be visible. Day and night, wear plenty of light and bright colors, and add lots of reflective material and arm and ankle bands with flashing lights at night. When cycling in the dark, make sure that your bike has the best lights that you can afford. When running or walking in the dark, choose well-lit routes and carry a light – headlamps keep your hands free and help you see and be seen. Even if you do look like the landing strip at New York JFK – at least everyone will see you! On roads without sidewalks, ensure that you run or walk facing the oncoming traffic. This gives you a better chance of seeing them and keeping put of their way.

2. Listen up

If you run or walk with headphones, keep the volume low or just have one earpiece in so that you can always hear cars, bikes, and even a potential attacker. Cycling with headphones is not advisable.

3. Stay in touch

Let someone know where you are going and take a map, especially if you are trying out a new and unfamiliar route. Carry a form of ID, such as a wristband, ankle band, helmet tag, or a shoe tag (some of these also incorporate a strip of reflective fabric) and a mobile phone or some change for a public phone. Run or walk with a partner or as part of a club if you are concerned about going out alone; having someone to talk with can make the time go more quickly. Also, a personal alarm might make you feel more confident when running, walking, or cycling alone.

4. Make sure that you can get home

A travel card or cash for a bus or train to get home in an emergency is also a good idea if you are running or cycling some distance.

5. Mix it up

If you are concerned about being followed, vary routes and times of running, walking or cycling. The variety will not only keep you from being a predictable target for an attack, it will also boost your mind and body fitness by preventing boredom or getting too used to your workouts.

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