Fitness | Summer safety
With the official arrival of summer in the northern hemisphere, it’s time to get outdoors.
There are plenty of safe ways to stay active, stay prepared, and enjoy the outdoors.
Plus, “there’s so much research on the effect that just being in the sun and being outdoors and engaging in any type of physical activity has on your health. mental in general,” said Sara Morris, an ultra-trail runner and certified track coach in Fort Knox, Kentucky.
As an Army Reserve soldier, Morris understands the importance of engaging in activities that help maintain readiness while reducing stress and having fun.
“As long as you’re safe, you can’t beat the pros,” she said.
For example, she suggests that “doing things that may be different from what you do in the winter, such as biking, paddleboarding, swimming, and hiking are good ways to get out into nature in the summer.”
These types of activities are also “a way to get those feel-good endorphins,” she added.
“And these activities can often be done for free, which is also great.”
Region specific activities
Cycling is another great sport, said Chuck Alfultis, outdoor recreation manager for Air Force Academy morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) program, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“Specifically, here in Colorado, it’s mountain biking. But any type of cycling and biking is great cardio,” he said. “It’s a way to get in shape, to expose yourself to the sun in good weather.”
And depending on where you’re parked, there are other activities people can do, like rock climbing, rafting, and other water sports, like canoeing and kayaking.
“Outdoor recreation has grown in popularity over the past two years due to COVID,” he said. “During COVID it was a way to get out of the house. You didn’t need to be around people, so outdoor activities and getting back to nature really took off.
Alfultis noted that each military installation has MWR programs and services for service members, their families, military retirees, veterans with service-related disabilities, as well as current and retired Department of Defense civilian employees and veterans. other eligible participants.
MWR programs can include organized group activities as well as guidance for activities and events you can enjoy in your area.
Morris stressed that outdoors, “the most important thing is sun protection and hydration.”
Being aware of the heat and how your body sweats throughout the day are important factors to keep in mind, she said.
“Make sure you wear UPF clothing [which indicates how much UV radiation a fabric allows to reach your skin]making sure you put on sunscreen at the proper intervals and making sure you have plenty of water,” she said.
For example, when she goes hiking with her family, she makes sure to pack an extra bottle of water to make sure there is enough for everyone.
“We will each have our own bottle of water, plus an extra one in case the activity takes a little longer than expected,” she said. “We also always have extra sunscreen to put on our faces and make sure we have hats on our heads.”
Another factor to remember is ticks. In Kentucky, like many other places, “tick season has been really bad” this year, she said. “So you’re going to want to have insect repellent to protect yourself and you’re also going to want to check yourself when you get home to make sure you don’t have ticks on your body, on your children’s body, on your body of your pet to protect you from this as well.
Morris emphasized the military community’s access to MilTICK program, which allows service members and DOD beneficiaries, including DOD contractors and civilians, to submit their ticks for identification and testing without needing to visit a clinic or order a test kit.
“So if you find a tick and it has bitten you, you can test that tick to see if it’s going to affect you,” Morris said. “You can also usually take it to the clinic on duty or the vet on duty and they can test your animals as well.”
A few precautions
Other precautions include water safety, being aware of the weather and common wildlife at your location.
In terms of water safety, Morris warns “it doesn’t take a lot of water to drown”. She recommends being observant and careful when in the water, especially if you can’t swim.
In this case, Alfultis added that it was essential to always wear a personal flotation device. “Just be sure to wear them at all times,” he said.
When traveling and hiking somewhere new, “make sure you know what wildlife is around and if you need bear spray or stay on high alert of your surroundings” , Morris said.
Alfultis said it was also important to dress appropriately. “Make sure you’re wearing proper closed shoes rather than flip flops if you’re going biking or hiking,” he said.
“And if you’re doing something alone, make sure someone knows where you’re going, what you’re doing, and how long you’re going to be away so they know what time to expect or where to look for you,” he said.
“If you park in a public space, take a moment to write down what time you started, your route, and an emergency contact number. Put that in your car’s dashboard, so if someone falls on your vehicle, it knows who you are and the route you were taking.