July 08, 2013

Safe and Sound

How much attention do you pay to safety while exercising?


Mostly I am a super-cautious neurotic freak.  I have an exaggerated and narcissistic sense of personal risk based on the idea that "if bad things can happen to anyone, why wouldn't they happen to ME?" I avoid doing things many people find fun because I fear the worst.

Though of course at times I can also be a total dumb-ass and do unsafe things. I have been known to speed around blind corners on the bike trail or skip putting sunscreen on my arms and legs, courting skin cancer just because I think sunscreen sucks.

Over the years I've have written about many scary hazards, such lightning strikes, bike safety, or avoiding brain-eating amoebas.  (And they ain't bad posts, actually, if you want some tips on how not to get killed this summer.)

And for even more safety information, Happiness Savored Hot has a great post on water safety and she worked many years as a lifeguard and knows her stuff.  (From what I gathered, the safest plan is:  don't allow your kids anywhere near bodies of water, ever. Because they will drown if they even smell a pool or an ocean. Don't even have kids, that's the best plan. And if you're a grown-up, be careful too, especially if you are young, male, stupid, and drunk off your ass. But, um, her post is a lot more pragmatic and helpful).

But today we have a more specific safety tip... as well as a heads-up about a free lecture series that looks very cool that I wanted to alert you to. Which has nothing to do with safety, but whatever.


And Yes This Involves Another Freakin' Headphone Review...


Sorry. That was sneaky.  And I know I must seem headphone obsessed lately, but I couldn't resist when I got the chance to get a free pair of Aftershokz M2 Headphones to review. The whole point of them is to be able to safely listen to tunes while riding your bike or hiking or running or whatever.

They sit in front of your ears, not on them or in them. They do this by using "military bone conduction" technology, which sounds kinda sneaky and even a little creepy doesn't it? But the net result:



You can hear stuff around you as well as your music!

Note: it is harder than I thought to take a picture of my own ear. Sorry it's not a great angle.

Aftershokz HeadPhone Features

So the open ear design allows you to be aware if there are horns honking at you or trucks roaring up from behind or low-flying alien spacecraft hovering above, looking for oblivious humans to abduct. Thus you can wear these in situations where you could not wear safely wear normal headphones.


These are NOT wireless, which I am perfectly fine with, as I am old school. They do have a wireless version that is twice as expensive.   Mine also came with a microphone; there is a version without one. They come with a hard shelled carrying case and a USB charger and a doohickey you clip to your shirt that controls volume and lets you take calls, should the President urgently need your advice ASAP on a matter of extreme importance to the citizens of the nation.

 (Which is pretty much the only call I'd be willing to interrupt my exercise for).

 Thank you Crabby, you always have the best advice!


Of course, as with any product, there are things I loved and things I did not love.

What's to Love about Aftershokz MP2 Headphones


I love that I can take the headphones out on my favorite jetty walk...


And then, if I am playing mellow music or listening to some new-agey brainwashing tapes to rewire my former cranky brain into an ever more blissful one, I can also hear the sound of the water sloshing through the rocks and birds squawking and families bickering!


Crappy picture, cloudy day. Hmm, notice how I'm just throwing any old camera phone photo up on the blog now in order to break up the text and make the post seem more interesting than it is?  But, anyway, the point is I do freakin' LOVE the sound the water makes and I can hear it now.

I also discovered that I can use the headphones even with sunglasses and helmet, somehow it all fits, and thus I can have tunes when I go off on the bike.



They are lightweight and not uncomfortable.  Sometimes if you have the music cranked up high, it can tickle a little.

And for those of us who hate earbuds because they feel creepy and fall out all the time, this is another solution like the Koss headphones I recently reviewed that stay where they're supposed to. This has reduced the time spent cursing while exercising nearly 100%.

So What's Not to Like About the Aftershokz?

Unless you live on a remote island somewhere and never come into contact with other humans, these will probably not be your only headphones because...

Your music is audible to those around you.

Which makes sense; you can't have it both ways.  So you can't take these to the library, and you may annoy others around you if you wear them on a subway or elevator, or to a gym that does not have it's own annoying musical selections blasting at you.

Also, the sound is not as clear and pristine as with conventional earbuds.  Decent enough to hear it well and enjoy it, but not an audiophile sort of experience.

Another thing you can't have both ways? There is a tradeoff between how loudly you play your music and how much you can hear. If you are blasting your tunes, you may still hear loud sirens and horns honking, but you won't hear rushing water or birdcalls or maybe even a quiet car coming up from behind you. Use common sense.

Bottom line:  I love these things, as well as the Koss earbuds with the earpiece. Now that I have my indoor and outdoor headphone needs well met, I promise this blog will be completely free of headphone reviews for a good long time.

And hey, I just remembered I'm actually an Amazon affiliate! This nets me exactly $0 most months because I never put up any ads.  But what the heck. This is the pair I got to review:



So What's Love Got to Do With It?

Remember way up there at the beginning of the post I mentioned an upcoming lecture series?  Well, check out The Loving Brain which starts July 15.

It comes courtesy of my favorite neuroscience geek/zen guru Rick Hanson, who is awesome, as I should know as I've been stalking him all over the interwebs ever since I wrote the Enlightened Brain review.


I heart Rick.

Here's the scoop which I will lazily cut and paste rather than paraphrase:

Join neuropsychologist Rick Hanson and 7 top-tier academics, clinicians, and teachers as they apply new research, ancient wisdom, and powerful clinical insights to the messy, high stakes issues many people face in their work, family, friendship, and romantic relationships.


And yeah, safe to say it sounds like it will be awesome. And it's free!

Do you pay attention to safety while you are exercising? Are you too a fan of Rick Hanson? Or how the heck was your 4th of July or Canada day?

Caution sign photo: badjonni

41 comments:

  1. I'm not a fan of exercising to music as I'd much rather this to what the world has to offer, but if I ever become one, then those headphones sound like the best deal for me.

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    1. Totally get it that nature is the preferred soundtrack for lots of folks and not surprised you'd be one of 'em Leah!

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  2. I try to be safe when I exercise but I have totally failed in the kids and water area. First, I have 2 kids and they are both BOYS!! Second, we spend hours at the swim beach at the lake (water that you can't even see the bottom) - and I usually read while they swim - but I do look up a LOT and tell them not to hold each other's heads under water!! And, I don't wear headphones during that time so that I can hear them and the water sound (even though I prefer the sound of the ocean!!).

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    1. Well Kim, if neither of your kids have drowned yet I'd say you're doing pretty darn well!

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  3. I like the out of ear concept of these headphones! I have to tell you that I have often heard the music from in the ear buds that people are wearing also. Something that they will have trouble with if they do not get smart about hearing damage.

    I am always surprised when I meet an adult that cannot swim!

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    1. I agree Dr. J, dumb to listen to music too loudly... and I will pretend I am smart enough never to do that.

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  4. I always have music going when I exercise and for the most part I don't feel like it impacts my attention span when I'm running.. but when I'm cycling I always keep the volume down a bit. There's just something about the difference in pace that makes me more nervous about things.

    I've recently started hiking a bit and so far I'm not into music for that. There's something about hearing the leaves, birds, etc that makes hiking so enjoyable. Similar to the waves I bet :)

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    1. Yeah Steph, biking without being able to hear is a bit more risky, especially if you can't hear cars behind you, plus as you say, you're going faster and need to react more quickly to the unexpected. Though you probably do have a better shot at avoiding alien abduction, so there's that.

      And agree... hiking I'm more likely to go music free.

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  5. Hey Crabby! Thank you for putting this link within your post! :-) And to rectify for those who might misinterpret my advice: by all means take your kids to the water... but keep your eyes on them! (And teach them safety rules and swimming abilities!)

    My headphones are Adidas Sennheiser and I love them.

    I've been reading Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, and it has chapters on the science of love... will check out the Loving Brain lectures for sure!

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    1. Sorry HSH, I was hoping readers would recognize the exaggeration as coming from me, not you, but yeah, in case anyone thinks the post warns everyone to never allow their kids in the water... nope, that's just me!

      And that book sounds great, will have to check it out!

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    2. LOLOLOLOL. Oh, I knew it was ALL you. :)

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  6. I'm safety girl and a former lifeguard. I am the goto person on any trip who always has safety pins and an extra shirt and ... 'cause you never know. I am so tired of carrying all this stuff around!!!
    On the swimming front I have always been amazed by people that jump in the deep end even though they can't swim and think they will hold onto the side and not slip. No sense of their own mortality!!!

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    1. Cindy, seriously, people who can't swim will jump into water over their heads? I can't imagine being that dumb, and I've done some dumb things in my life.

      And will have to take you on my next hike, you sound very handy!

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  7. I have always been pretty lax about safety for myself. And my kids have always been so infuriatingly unadventurous, I'm constantly pushing them to take MORE risks (I'll give you a dollar if you run across this six-lane highway and back!). Really, the only safety matters that I think about hard relate to the dogs, where I try to be very careful to protect people from their jumpy, slobbery selves and try to protect them from running across the six-lane highway because they just LOVE an adventure!

    One of the ways a good personal trainer can be so awesome is that they do the worrying about safety for you. Indoors, anyway.

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    1. You crack me up Trabb's Boy.

      Hmm, maybe if you start being more of a Safety Nag then your kids will be more adventurous just to be contrary? Tell them you're worried about their spending too much time outdoors so you'd really appreciate it if they'd stay home more and read.

      Oh wait... I'm thinking of cats, not kids. No experience with raising kids, but we knew the only way to get a cat to want to leave a room was by closing the door so it couldn't.

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  8. As a runner, I have to be really careful about safety - too many opportunities for cars and creepers to get me. OK, maybe not the creepers so much, but in my mind, they're there! When I used to run with music, I had headphones that didn't nestle inside of my ear so I could hear the outside world, too.

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    1. Good for you for keeping it safe Shelley! Funny, I don't tend to fear Creepers, as I live in a fairly Creep-free neighborhood, but cars, ack!!

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  9. I like to be safe! I am not a fan of earbuds, but these have potential as the reason I am not a fan is because I don't like anything in my ears.

    Canada Day weekend was a flurry of yoga, dining, tall ships, concerts, hiking, lemonade, and generally getting out there and enjoying! Saw two fireworks displays right from our balcony which was perfect!

    I don't think I am smart enough to enjoy Rick Hanson, but I may give him a whirl.

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    1. Sounds like an awesome Canada day Kimberley! And as it looked like you discovered already from the comment below, Rick is very approachable and easy to listen to. He manages to deliver all kinds of cool info about how the brain works in a way that doesn't feel at all intimidating.

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  10. I take it back. I checked out Rick Hanson and am joining in the FREE fun! Life lesson for me...don't assume.

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    1. I assume that's a life lesson I'm going to be learning over and over myself!

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  11. Because my favorite exercises are done in classes or with DVDs or video, i'm not sure i would use these headphones often.

    Safety is a big concern, but not so much that i keep myself in a plastic bubble. Some things aren't negotiable -- i won't bungee jump, but i might go for a tethered hot-air balloon ride. It would depend on my mood.

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    1. I'm with you on the bungee jumping messymimi! The sensation of free-fall terrifies me to begin with, so there is no sense incurring any risk for something I'd totally dread doing. And sure, I suspect if I cared to I could eventually work up a tolerance for it but there are too many other fun things to do in life!

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  12. Lucky Duck (lurking in the shadows)July 9, 2013 at 5:30 AM

    I never use headphones on the bike, though I used to listen to some good ol' thumping techno when I was running a lot... If I start to run again I'll most likely try it without headphones, to make it less about pace and more about pleasure / being outside. Running is the only thing I ever do specifically for exercise (the bike is transport, ju-jitsu isn't primarily about fitness, etc.) and I think that may be partly why I don't do it any more!

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    1. It's a Duck of Mystery! And that's great that none of your exercise is done out of a sense of exercise-obligation, and that it happens naturally as you pursue things that interest you or that get you places.

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  13. My mom was hyper vigilante and a real worrier, fearful of lots of things. I have a bit of that in me, but recognizing, (and remembering) that that kind of an attitude can be a bit of a fun suck, I try and fight of the urge to bubble wrap those I love, and mostly hope for the best. A few of us almost drowned in a rip tide a few years ago, but managed to get out on our own. We all went back in the next day on the theory that you have to jump back on the horse once he throws you. That being said, I do get out much more quickly now if it feels like the tide is getting at all wonky.
    Had a great 4th! Hope you did too.
    Gaye

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    1. Hey Gaye, great to see you back on the interwebs! Love that you recognize the bubble-wrap tendencies but temper it with common sense. And courage! I'm not sure I would have jumped back in the water the day after nearly drowning. Yay you!

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  14. I love this...while in university I had it pointed out to me by a concerned stranger how oblivious I was to the world around me with my headphones in. I am...not the best at being aware of my surroundings at the best of times and so when I am anywhere remotely dangerous I only leave 1 earbud in. Point in case - just this weekend I walked right into a mosquito coil lit up and chained from the roof of a tent and could have put my eye out (who hangs a burning thing at eye level??) but luckily I just have a tiny welt on my eyelid to remind me to be more observant. Yeah...I need bubble wrap sometimes...
    These headphones look like a better option for outside workouts, and for working int he lab where I need to hear things and it's not safe to be trapped in headphoneland.

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    1. OUCH!!! Glad the mosquito coil wasn't any worse!

      Glad I'm not the only oblivious one out there; I totally do stuff like that. And I love that you work in a lab; totally conjures up Absent-Minded Professor images. :)

      I just like to think we spacey types have such awesome thinky brains that it's logical to want to spend more time on the inside of them than on the outside world around us. Worth the occasional bump on the head, right?

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  15. Those headphones are so crazy cool! I would do anything to get a hold of them, They would make my workouts so much more enjoyable, because I hate having to constantly fix the larnyard strap around my neck...Great review, thanks for the info

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  16. When I'm in my own backyard (ie the 100 mile rail-to-trail conversion that runs my back property line), I tend to be more carefree. I MUST listen to music while I run/bike or my motivation just goes. I am not a self-starter. Run? 5 miles? Bah. Who cares if I walk half of it...not me.

    That said, the one time every year I am HYPER vigilant is when I travel to Yellowstone. Surprising a big old bison, many pronged elk, or mama bear is NOT on my list of great ways to get exercise.

    I hate in ear listening devices. My current exercise headphones are a pair of wireless ones that the transmitter is half busted so the sound only comes out of one ear. So yeah. I can hear my music but still hear the world around me if I need to. These sound like a cool concept. And hey - if the bison/elk/bear could hear my music than maybe they'd stay out of my way! :)

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    1. How awesome that you have a 100 mile trail right in your backyard, bdaiss! And yeah, National Parks are gorgeous places for exercise but too many people seem to think they are like Disneyland; guaranteed to be hazard-free. Smart of you to be hyper vigilant there!

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  17. I'm a worrier and a safety nut, of sorts... Ok - maybe just a nut.

    While I like to pretend I'm safety conscious, the reality is that I do this only in a smug sort of way - blithely ignorning things when they just aren't 'convenient'.

    That said - truly, really - I CAN still hear birds singing when I wear my earphones while "running". Either we have really loud birds out here or my hearing is better than I think. I suspect we have loud birds.

    I don't keep the volume really low (or really loud). I want to hear every lovin' little bit of treble, bass, etc.... A bit of an audiophile am I - so I really can't stand just having one ear bud in. Plus - the Princess and the Pea component of my makeup is extremely demanding when it comes to fitting in the earedness :(... So, just finding earbuds that kind of work has been really frustrating.

    Things I worry over most in this realm include:
    Keeping music to volume where I can still hear decently but others aren't annoyed.
    Keeping the volume low enough to avoid causing long term damage but still high enough to drown out the less pleasant jackhammering construction noise.
    Striking a balance between tuning in and tuning out - of the world. Making sure music is more often a great soundtrack for life than replacement of it.
    Finally - making sure I can keep alert to the foot falls coming up behind me made by my imaginary throng of adoring fans... Oh yeah - I live in my own little world... :).......

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    1. Smart of you, anonymous, to be conscious of hearing damage; I KNOW I sometimes listen too loudly but can't seem to resist nudging the volume up, it's sort of like a plate of fresh baked cookies set out on the counter... good intentions and behavior sometimes NOT in accordance.

      I think the type of music has something to do with how much ambient sound gets in; classical or acoustic folk is less likely to drown everything out than the thumping techno-cheesy commercial club dance tracks of which I am fond for aerobic or interval workouts.

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  18. I love the crumbling cliff warning sign. The main thing I do to stay safe when I exercise is to try to avoid falling off things: stationary bikes, ellipticals, my feet....

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    1. Good plan, Mary Anne! Especially since the older we get, the more consequences seem to come from falling. (Said the woman who broke her elbow falling off a bike going 1/2 mile an hour).

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  19. I am sooo hyper-vigilant the other 23.5 hours I tend to zone out and clifffall during the workout period....
    so far I like it that way :-)

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    1. Well it doesn't seem to have hurt you Miz!!!

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  20. Why am I so stuck on your "brainwashy" remark? Do I want to be brainwashed? Am I jealous because I have not yet been? I must go seek out these answers....

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  21. I tend to go back and forth between using headphones and then listening to the sounds of the environment I'm in. It really depends on how I'm feeling, but these headphones do look promising :)

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  22. I like to have music all around me most of the time. This seems a good headphone to try on.

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