5 Tips for Exercising Outdoors in the Dark

5 Tips for Exercising Outdoors in the Dark

We’re already competing with the sun as to who gets home from work faster. It’s doubtful we’ll ever win that race once the clocks roll back this Sunday. (If you haven’t already, mark your calendars for Daylight Saving Time on Nov. 2nd.) However, darkness doesn’t mean you need to take your evening workout indoors. In fact, preserving that fresh air facilitation could be the key to warding off any early winter blues. Research published in the Environmental Science & Technology shows outdoor exercise can significantly increase your energy while decreasing tension and depression. Plus, with temps beginning to cool down, there’s no better time to smile in the name of a mostly sweat-free workout.

From glowing apparel to safety tips and ticks, we’ve got your guide below for keeping your workout al fresco, so no need to head indoors just yet!

Run against traffic

1.  Move In the Right Direction

When you’re pumping those legs alongside moving cars, the general road rule is to bike with traffic and walk against traffic. This applies to all times of day, but is particularly important for non-daylight hours when drivers will have even more difficulty seeing you. Running against traffic allows cars to see you from afar, and for you to also see when they’re coming so you can move out of the way. To be on the safe side, you should wear reflectors on both sides of your body, but attach an extra one if possible to the front side of your shirt.  With biking, you’re generally moving a lot faster than you are when walking/running, so the reaction time for the driver to see you is shortened. This makes it better to move in their same direction, which means, be sure to have a reflector on your bike’s back side.

Running shoe reflectors

2.  Glow from Head to Toe

It’s important to see and be seen when working out during the dark evening hours, which is where reflectors come in handy. Luckily, there are lots of neat options out there that’ll help you glow from head to toe. Starting from the feet up, these Nathan Light Spurs allow you to clip on reflectors right to your shoes, and cost just under $17 via Amazon.  Glowing on up to your legs, Nike makes reflective running tights for both men and women, which will also keep you warm as winter weather heads in. If sticking to shorts, try this lightweight belt for under $10, or if you prefer a belt that wraps around your arm, consider this waterproof LED band. For your head, REI had a made-for-runners headlamp that won’t bounce around while you move and will also light your way, and Under Armour has a reflective beanie for nights where you need some extra warmth. Whatever tools you use for gearing up to glow, be sure to rock a brightly colored outfit underneath, whether that means red shorts or a neon yellow hoodie for cooler weathered workouts.

Running with friends at night

3.  Grab a Buddy

Heading out with a friend will not only increase your visibility and boost your safety, but it’ll also increase your accountability to stay on track when you might otherwise begin heading into hibernation mode. Rather than coming up with reasons to skip out on your workouts, he/she will become a reason to workout. For group runs, check out Meetup to find a team of buddies near you.

Running on track at night


4.  Light Your Route 

Plant your fitness routine in a well-lit place. For a workout that involves walking/running/biking, that means you should plan in advance to find a path that’s both safe and visible for you to see. Sometimes this may mean steering away from your favorite route towards a more populated area. Keep in mind, your alternative would be inside at the gym, and if the word “dreadmill” means anything to you, then you know a minor change in route is worth it! Consider hitting your closest running track for workouts or your town’s sidewalks near an area that gets foot traffic.

Morning workout

5. Rise with the Sun

If you want to keep your workouts outdoors, but can’t fathom losing the light, consider switching your sweat sessions to the A.M. Waking up and working out will ensure you don’t blow off exercising after work when it’s dark outside. Plus, there are numerous added health benefits to rising and running with the sun, like an increased mood, metabolism, and clearer state of mind.

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