For most women, exercising outdoors comes with safety concerns. From an early age, women learn to be on guard for sexual harassment and unwanted attention, especially when they’re out alone, or in the winter months when it gets dark earlier. Recent studies show that a staggering ¾ of British women don’t feel safe exercising at night. This means that while gyms have been closed during lockdown, many women who are unable to fit exercise into their working day have gone without it.
Following the recent tragic death of Sarah Everard, a woman from South London who was murdered while walking home, many of us feel more uneasy than ever about walking or running alone. While the sad reality is that there are certain dangers for women exercising outdoors (and this is something men need to address), over the last few weeks, we’ve spotted some great tips on social media that could help you to stay safe and deter potential attackers. We wanted to share them with you and say thank you to everyone who’s been posting this useful information online.
1. Join a running/cycling club
It doesn’t matter how careful you are with your route, when you’re running alone, there’s always the fear that something bad could happen. So, instead of running by yourself, why not join a running club? There are loads of great free running clubs around the UK and they’re really easy to find. Simply go onto Google and search for running or cycling clubs in your local area. With lockdown restrictions lifting to allow outdoor sports teams to meet from March 29th, lots of these clubs will be starting up again soon.
2. Set up the SOS feature on your iPhone
Did you know that there’s an SOS feature on your iPhone where if you press your lock button five times, a loud alarm will sound and your phone will automatically call the emergency services? This clever setting is quick and easy to enable. Simply head to your settings, then to emergency SOS and turn it on. There’s also an option to send your exact location to several emergency contacts whenever the feature is activated.
3. Pre-record a ‘loudspeaker phone conversation’
We saw this clever idea on Instagram. If you’re worried that someone might be following you, it’s useful to have a pre-recorded phone conversation that you can play as if you were calling a friend on loudspeaker. You record the ringing noise and one side of a conversation, then you fill in the rest of the conversation as if you’re actually talking on the phone. Hopefully, this would make someone think twice and leave you alone. Here’s a ready-made version you can use that @claire.d.b kindly created. You could also go live on Facebook or Instagram if you ever feel uneasy about your surroundings. Just make sure you announce that you're going live loudly and clearly and get the person in the frame to cover all your basis.
4. Wear your jacket unzipped
Leave your jacket or coat unbuttoned/unzipped. If someone tries to grab you while you're wearing your jacket, pull away hard enough for them to grip it harder. That's when you shrug off your coat and run. Thin and lined jackets are great for this as the inner lining and the outer shell of the jacket will be slippery when rubbing together making the attacker's hands slip when trying to grip you. This will grant you some time to make an escape.
We hope these tips will help you stay safe during the beautiful spring weather that is to come.
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