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Safety Tips for Exercising in the Dark

By , SparkPeople Blogger
This weekend most of us around the country will be turning our clocks back which will allow us to have that extra hour of sleep we gave up last March. However, with the time change comes a challenge when exercising in the darkness of the night or early morning hours. Whether you are a runner, walker or cyclist, the shorter daylight hours can pose a factor in keeping you safe while working out.

A few weeks ago I received an email from one of my favorite online running stores, Road Runner Sports, with the following statistic in the by-line--"122,000 Runners, Walkers and Cyclists are hit by cars each year." This statistic was provided by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. And while this statistic did not differentiate between day and night time exercisers, it is important that we all, not matter what time of day or night we exercise, be a defensive exerciser.

Last year I wrote a blog on Safety Tips for Runners and Walkers in which I briefly mentioned the need to wear reflective attire when running. Not wearing proper reflective attire can make it very difficult for anyone to see you, therefore, it is important for you to wear proper attire and take precautions when working out at night, especially if you are exercising at dusk when the sun has not fully set. Just know that many drivers, regardless of the gear you are wearing are not attentive, which means you have to do all you can to keep yourself safe.

Measures to Take to Keep You Safe

  • Be sure to wear a reflective vest so that this makes you more noticeable to drivers.

  • Wear reflective bands on arms and legs if your workout gear does not have reflective strips. The reason, the motion of the reflection when running, walking or cycling makes you more noticeable to drivers at night.

  • Wear a headlamp so that you see the path in which you are running/walking. It also makes you more noticeable to drivers.

  • Wear blinking red lights, both the front and back so that others see you.

  • Always carry an ID or invest in a RoadiD which allows you to have all pertinent information on your person should something happen.

  • Do not wear dark clothes as this makes it more difficult for drivers to see you.

  • Make sure you run/walk against the flow of traffic. This allows you to see cars coming in your direction which will allow you to get out of their way, if the driver fails to see you.

  • It is best to run or walk with others, but if you must run alone, make sure you let someone know your route and always carry a cell phone.

  • Vary your route from day to day as well as avoiding places where perpetrators can hide, such as trails and heavily wooded areas.

  • Always stop at intersections and allow drivers the right away, even if you arrived to the intersection first. You must assume that the driver may not be aware of you, therefore taking a few seconds off your training run to let the cars go may save your life.

  • Do not run with headphones. You want to be fully aware of your surroundings, especially when your visibility is restricted.
Safety is our number one priority whether exercising in the heat of summer or the darkness of winter. Just remember that no matter what time of day you choose to exercise, become a defensive exerciser. Always assume that a driver will not see you, so you must do all that you can to make yourself visible. And always be aware of your surroundings. If you feel unsafe trust your intuition. It's better to cut a run, walk or ride short if you feel something is not right than to put yourself in harm's way. We want to keep all our SparkPeople members safe.

What precautions do you take to keep you safe when exercising at night? Do you have any of the items mentioned earlier? Do you have any other ideas to offer?

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I walk with two neighbors every morning at 5:30 AM. The three of us all wear reflective vests which we bought a few years ago at a specialty run/bike shop. It's DARK out there, and even with the time change it still will be. Drivers may not be wide awake at that hour. We also carry flashlights. Report
Great timing - I was just thinking about how I will be walking the dog in the dark. I'm going to find a reflective leash for him and reflective tape for me this weekend. My friend got some and just made a loop out of it & wears it like a sash so she can have it no matter what work out clothes she's in. Please do remember your children as well! Like THSHRINKINGDIVA, I also have nearly hit children running into the street now that it is dark int he morning! Report
Great article! I see alot of people out in the evening without reflective gear. In a city where there are virtually no streetlights reflective gear is very important. The speed limits may be 25 but that doesn't stop a potential hazard not wearing proper gear. Report
GREAT tips - thanks!! Funny, just moments ago I saw in the paper that sunset tomorrow is at 4:43 here...meaning ALL my workouts will now be in the dark. UGH! I was thinking about this very topic! Report
Great article - enjoyed the tips. I walk in the evening sometimes and pay attention. I especially like that we watch the cars because you are so right they don't always see you - they are on their cell phones. Report
I live in a small, clean, safe city and in the evenings I plan my route along the parts of the city that have sidewalks. Then all I have to dodge is shoppers:D Safe running everyone! Report
Great article! I also wanted to mention to parents that these measures would also be great for KIDS who are out walking to or from school or who have to wait for the bus early in the morning. I was driving home around 7 AM last week and almost hit four different children, at different locations, because they were walking to school and "rough housing" with friends or running out into the street at bus stops and I couldn't see them due to the light conditions and all of them wearing dark clothing. Report