More and more people are living in cities, and urban living is often more convenient for seniors, allowing us to stay independent for longer. We can walk or use public transit to get to where we need to go, and neighbors and friends are closer to provide a supportive community. But as we age, safety and security become more front-of-mind and exercising in an urban environment presents unique concerns or cautions. The following are some tips for safe urban workouts, which everyone can use but offer particular insight for seniors…
Keep Air Quality in Mind
To maintain optimal conditions for your respiratory system, you should avoid highly congested areas, since more traffic produces more exhaust that you don’t want to be breathing. Also, try to exercise first thing in the morning when the air is clearer, or after evening rush hour traffic has died down for minimal air pollution. Many cities have parks with trails for walking or jogging that are away from traffic.
Cross Streets Safely
It’s safest to move against the flow of traffic for optimal visibility between yourself and drivers. Never jaywalk – doing so increases the risk of a serious accident. Always use crosswalks and never assume a driver sees that you’re crossing, so make eye contact with them as they approach and make sure all lanes are clear before you cross the street (just because one driver stops, doesn’t mean they all will). You should also make sure that you have plenty of time to cross the street, since rushing increases the risk that you may trip and fall.
Do Bodyweight Exercises in Appropriate Spots
One of the nicer things about city living are the public parks and greenspaces. Some cities prioritize these more than others, but they are pretty much a universal thing. Use these spaces to do bodyweight exercises to round out your urban workouts. Exercises like leg raises, wall sits, and push-ups can be done anywhere and everywhere.
Wear Bright and/or Reflective Clothing at Dusk & Nighttime
Although urban areas are typically better lit than suburban and rural regions, the dim lighting at dusk and darkness at night can make exercising at these times riskier from a safety perspective. To make yourself most visible to vehicles – even if you plan to stay on the sidewalk – wear bright colors and reflectors where possible.
Move to Avoid Risk of Falling
As much as possible, only walk on smooth, flat surfaces such as a sidewalk or paved shoulder (stay as far away from traffic as possible). Choose routes that are well lit and maintained to be clear of rocks, sticks and other debris that could cause you to trip. Stay alert at all times, and don’t talk on your phone or text while moving.