Beware of Bugs When Exercising Outdoors

Photo Credit: John Sullivan PD
Many people exercise outdoors, especially during warm weather. When the weather is warm, the bugs come out! The more time you spend outside, especially in rural areas, parks and other wooded areas the more likely you are to be bitten by a bug or stung by a bee. Spiders, bees, mosquitoes, wasps and ticks live in most every part of the United States. Stinging and biting insects are found even in cities. Insects and spiders can make you sick in addition to leaving a painful, itchy, swollen bite on your skin. Most insect bites cause only a mild reaction but sometimes insects and spiders can make you very sick or even cause severe allergic reactions which can be life threatening. When you exercise outside during warm weather, take measures to protect yourself.
Use an insect repellent to protect yourself from flying insects, like mosquitoes and bees. You can apply an insect repellent over your sunscreen, but avoid using repellents on your face or other sensitive areas of the skin. There are over-the-counter products that combine both a sunscreen and an insect repellent. Choose a natural, herbal and essential oil insect repellent if you don’t want to use a chemical concoction. Health food and herbalist stores can help you find the ingredients to make your own natural repellent or you can buy pre-mixed natural insect repellents in some stores.
Learn your local flora, find out when the plants bloom and which insect pollinators are attracted to the flowers. Most wild flowering plants bloom for a short time. Should you be stung by a bee while walking, running or jogging outdoors, remove the stinger as soon as possible. Bee stingers are barbed to hold them in the skin. Bees leave the stinger and the venom sack behind in your skin. Don’t pinch the stinger with tweezers to remove it or you could squeeze more venom into your skin. Scrape the stinger out of your skin by dragging a flat, straight-edge object, like a credit card, across the stinger. If you are allergic to bee or wasp stings, you probably should avoid areas where bees and wasps will be attracted to flowering plants.

Ticks live almost everywhere, especially in wooded areas and tall grass. Ticks can carry diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease or tularemia. Ticks bite by burying their tiny heads in your skin and sucking blood. Remove a tick with tweezers by grasping the tick as close to your skin as possible and pulling it straight out. Wash the affected area with soap and water and treat it with an antiseptic. If you enjoy hiking, walking and exploring in wooded areas, wear light color clothing to make it easier to see ticks on your clothes. Wear a long sleeve shirt and long pants with the cuffs tucked into your socks to prevent ticks from getting inside your pants.