Can you listen to headphones whilst out walking?


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Technology has advanced greatly over the years and has enabled us to listen to our favourite music, podcasts, or audio books so easily nowadays, but I sometimes wonder if listening whilst out walking is safe.

It can be great to listen to music to keep you going, to motivate you; it’s also good to listen to podcasts to grow your mind on your favourite subjects; and who has time for reading these days, when you could combine a walk with an audiobook? Losing yourself in any one of these, whilst keeping fit and getting fresh air, is surely one of the best examples of multi-tasking.

Is it safe to listen to music on headphones whilst walking?

But is it safe? Can you be so engrossed that you don’t realise the dangers of traffic, your surroundings, people around you?

In a study in the US into this, it was found that between 2004 and 2011 there were 116 injuries and deaths of pedestrians wearing headphones were reported. Of these, 55% of the accidents involved trains.

Interestingly, two-thirds of the victims were men, with the same amount being under the age of 30. You may want to draw your own conclusions about this, but for me I think maybe young men don’t think of the consequences and are probably more in their own world rather than aware of their surroundings.

What I also wonder, with technological advances in the past 8 years, and I would say many more people donning headphones whilst out, whether those figures may have increased drastically in more recent years?

My main concern, and maybe this is just me being an older man, is when I see young ladies walking along on their own, headphones in, seemingly unaware of the people around them. I sometimes want to stop them and point out the dangers, but of course, that would make them jump more anyway!

You cannot escape the news every week of stabbings – and it’s not just in big cities. Only 2 weeks ago someone was stabbed in my home town, in fact 50 yards from my home. The more we hear about horrible events like this, it seems the more they occur. So whilst I don’t want to scare anyone, I think we should all be more aware of our surroundings.

Whilst we are talking about walking, if you jog also the temptation to listen to music for motivational can be compelling. But I think it is even more of an issue for runners – it would be so easy to be tripped up, or if crossing roads easy to not notice cars turning round corners.

But I really don’t want to put a dampener on your chances of listening and getting enjoyment from that. So therefore we need to look at how to do that safely.

6 Tips for being safe whilst listening on headphones whilst out walking

Choose a good set of headphones.

If you use a poor quality headphone set, you will probably turn up the volume, and thus drown out traffic and other noises around you. Buying a good quality headphone set and you can keep the volume lower, and thus keeping you safer.

Keep your iPod or phone in your pocket.

Whilst this point is more about keeping your possessions safe, this may also keep you safe too. Make your device hard to steal, and you won’t attract nasty thieves who are looking to take advantage of you. And in these days when people can be scarily nasty, you won’t be attracting someone even more dangerous. I would also suggest tucking your wires inside your shirt – even harder to see to someone quickly.

Keep your speed up.

If you walk quickly, people may think you are jogging, and as such be put off any foul intentions. Use that music to keep you motivated and walking quickly.

Know where you are going.

If you are listening on your headphones, don’t be tempted to stray into new areas. Firstly, you may not know how safe this area is, but also you need to look confident to deter people. That’s hard to do if you are lost. If you do happen to find yourself in this situation, take your headphones out and work out the quickest way to get back to an area you know.

Check at corners if anyone is following you.

Every time you come to a corner, make sure you half turn, to ensure no-one is following you. If you do find someone there, don’t panic, just think back if you have seen them before. Have they been following you on purpose, or is it just coincidence or timing. Cross the road if you feel you need to, speed up, slow down to let them pass. If you find they are doing the same and you are worried don’t be scared to seek help.

Respond to people.

If people do invade your space, reach out to touch you, or try and be a nuisance, say hi, but tell them that you are not interested. put your headphones away. Be firm, but also aware of your surroundings and seek help if required.

As long as you keep your wits about you, and stay safe, then listening to music, podcasts or audio books can be a great way to motivate or educate yourself whilst out walking.

What you miss when listening on your headphones

Personally I try to walk in nature as much as possible, although I am not averse to walking through towns. But to me, there’s nothing better than walking through a wood, along a cliff top, or over rolling hills.

Especially at this time in lockdown, nature seems to be thriving. With less traffic on the roads comes less pollution. As such, there seems to be more evidence of animals, and birds seem to be much friendlier and happy to stay around much longer when you approach.

So many people I have been talking to these past few weeks have remarked on being able to hear birdsong so much more, even in central London. Whether it is them being more aware of their surroundings in a time of not needing to rush around, or whether wildlife is being able to come out from hiding, I can’t say for sure. Personally I think it’s both, and I think this is a good thing.

So whilst you may love to music when walking, sometimes just leave them at home and take in the surroundings and natural sounds all around you.

Conclusion – Can you listen to headphones whilst walking?

Of course you can listen on your headphones when out walking. But please take note of the points above to stay safe, and just sometimes, remember to listen to nature too.

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