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With the weather getting warmer and daylight lasting longer, many of us are turning to outdoor workouts. There are plenty of benefits to shifting your early morning workouts to after dark sweat sessions. If you are like me, I love to bike or run as the sun as setting and the day cools off. There are a few things to consider before pounding the pavement after dark.

Staying Safe After Sunset

Evening is my most favorite time of the day to exercise and there is nothing more magical than watching the sunset and listening to nature as you bike, walk or run.  As the miles go by, my stressors of the day simply melts away and I can tune into my inner Zen.  But, before going out for a night run, I definitely do my homework to make sure to avoid the busiest times for traffic.  Other preparations may seem pretty obvious such as wearing reflective clothing, carrying a cell phone and flashlight and being aware of your surroundings.  I like exercising at night because I can spot cars long before they spot me.  This gives me enough time for diving off the road if necessary!

In addition, I make sure to keep my music low and I always leave one ear-bud out so that I can listen for stray dogs and oncoming traffic.  I always carry a flashlight and have seen some runners even wear a headlamp.  I also like working out with a buddy at night especially if I am exercising somewhere that I am not 100% confident is safe.  Perhaps the most important thing to consider is surveying your outdoor surroundings during the daylight. 

I like to drive the desired route during the day to learn the safe and dangerous parts of my course.  Just because etiquette says to run on a specific side of the road does NOT mean you have to.  Make sure to look for narrow medians, ditches, or sketchy places for cars to pass you.  If it looks safer on the opposite side of the road, go for it!

Bad for Bedtime?

Many people may think that exercising at night will prevent them from getting a good night of sleep.  There is very little research to support this claim because our circadian rhythms set our natural clock.  Our circadian rhythm determines if we are a morning person or a night owl as our natural energy levels vary throughout the day.  I find I get my biggest energy boost after 3:00 PM and I love to stay up all night.  Naturally I prefer to exercise at night because I can get the most out of my body and maximize my workouts.  

In addition, exercising at night burns off my excess evening energy so I can actually fall asleep at night. Many people feel that they have less motivation at night and this can be entirely true if your evening life is hectic family activities.  I say, fit in your workout whenever and wherever you can.  

This might mean putting the kids down for bed and then pounding the pavement because it is the only time mom or dad gets to concentrate on themselves.  One of the best reasons for exercising at night is that the morning rush is completely avoided.  Whenever I try to exercise in the morning, I always feel like I am behind schedule.  I tend to cut my workouts short, skip those last few reps and have an overall feeling of HURRY UP!  Workouts should be enjoyable, a time where you can digest your thoughts and hone in to your body’s most natural form.  Stressing about the morning’s meeting or rehearsing what you are going to say to your boss during it, does not belong in your workout time.  Clear your mind and wind down from the day by trying your next workout tonight.

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