Stay safe while keeping fit
In light of Ryan Smith's cycling accident last month that has left him in a coma and the amazing work and commitment that his family and friends have given to forming the Ryan Smith Foundation, I wanted to make this month's article about - staying safe whilst keeping fit and active.
The points below are relevant for those new and experienced to fitness and are always worth reminding ourselves of from time to time. If you are just starting out on your fitness journey and are unsure how any increase in activity will effect you and your body, then the first thing to do is visit your GP or take a health test with a Personal Trainer. This will highlight any issues you should be aware of and you can then adapt your training around these.
Cycling and running are two of the most popular activities that will improve your overall fitness, whether indoors on a treadmill or gym bike, or outdoors. Going outdoors clearly brings more risk but also far greater enjoyment. So let's take a look at what we can do to keep ourselves safe and in the event of an accident keep any injures to a minimum.
Firstly have an idea of the weather forecast and have appropriate clothing. It maybe warm and sunny when you leave but should you sustain an injury or a mechanical problem and the weather worsens; you could be left out in the cold, literally. Light weight waterproofs are easy to store and carry. Base layers can help you to stay warm but also help to keep you cool in the heat too. Now you have the right clothing for the elements, what do we need for protection against a fall or collision?
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Whilst cycling a helmet MUST always be worn, even if it's just a two minute ride to the shops, you'd be crazy not to and this is what the Ryan Smith Foundation are now lobbying for, so please check out the link at the end and sign the petition. Gloves are also a very good idea and you can get summer and winter gloves. My gloves saved my hands a couple of weeks ago when I came off my bike on a slippery corner. Unfortunately my cycling shorts didn't offer the same protection and my hip took the brunt of it, but it could have been worse without the protection I did have. Glasses are also an essential whilst riding, as there are plenty of bugs out there that may just want to fly straight into your eyes! When out for a run, having the right footwear for the terrain your running on will help support your feet and ankles.
Whether cycling or running, let someone know roughly where you're going and how long you'll be. Take your phone with you and ensure you have an ICE number on it. (ICE – In Case of Emergency, make this number your home, partner's mobile or other number where those assisting, in the event that you are unconscious, can call)
Clothing sorted, how long are you going to be out for? If it's just an hour or less, then fluid and food aren't really a concern but if it's a 3+ hour ride or run then you need to be considering these, either taking them with you or having a shop or café stop on route.
Lights are a requirement by law on a bicycle during the hours of darkness and bright, reflective clothing is also advisable for both runners and cyclists. So at this time of year when the early mornings and late evenings are getting darker and through the winter months, always ensure your lights are fitted and working, if you ride at these times.
If you're at all worried about going out on your own, then joining a club or group would alleviate these concerns. You'll also have like minded people you can talk to, set goals and share experiences and advice with.
Of course there so many other ways to stay fit and active other than cycling and running, why not try swimming, walking & rambling, team sports, weight & bodyweight training, bodybuilding, powerkiting, skating, parkour and free running, fell walking, slacklining and golf.
This list is far from exhaustive but you get the idea. Fitness and using our bodies should be fun, so it's just finding something that you enjoy doing and get a buzz from, this will almost guarantee that you'll keep doing it and it won't be just a fad that you stop doing in a few months. Whatever it is that you do, always research it, speak to those that are professionals or experts in it and learn it over time. This way you will get maximum enjoyment with maximum safety from it and will ensure you live a long and fulfilling life doing it.
So as I mentioned earlier, The Ryan Smith Foundation is lobbying for a law to be brought in to make helmets compulsory when riding a bicycle. Now although I prefer the freedom of choice, in this instance, bringing this law in will ensure that every cyclist is better protected and able to enjoy their cycling to the full. Should an accident then occur, any head injuries stand more chance of being reduced with the protection of a helmet and therefore recovery and returning to full health would be sooner. That's got to be worth bringing this law in for, hasn't it?
Please visit - http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/48526 and sign the e-petition, it will only take a minute.
Once you've done that you can check out Team Smith on Facebook – https:// www.facebook.com/ryansmithfoundation?fref=ts where you can get details of a cycle ride they are organising on Sunday, September 8.
So if you've got a bike, make sure you've got a helmet and come join us.
Here's wishing Ryan a speedy and full recovery. Until next month, enjoy what you do and keep it safe.