Well, it’s here. It’s fall. Our morning commutes are getting darker, and it won’t be long before we’re driving home in the dark too.
For many of us this time brings an end to outdoor workouts. And that can mean putting on new or restoring old layers of fat. But we are not bears. We don’t hibernate. We do not have to respond to this change of light by eating more and moving less.
What we need here is a strategy.
For morning and evening walkers, runners, and bikers, it’s easy to extend your workout time by adding lights and reflecting materials to your body. Lights are strange tools to get used to, but far better to adjust than to turn an ankle in a pothole or be tossed into a ditch by a commuter who can’t see you by moonlight.
Your lights can be attached to your bike, your body, your shoes, or hand-held, whatever is most comfortable and suits your budget. They don’t need to cast a whole lot of light, but enough to illuminate your path when you’re following familiar routes.
Where reflecting gear is concerned, the offerings range from very sexy and pricey jackets and shorts made of reflecting materials to reflective tape you can buy at the hardware store and slap onto a jacket, helmet, or running shorts. Please don’t try to rely on the reflecting material on your shoes for working out in the dark. These patches can look like no more than fireflies to a passing motorist.
If you don’t carry identification with you yet, please make the small investment in a dog tag to lace into your sneakers that carries your home address, phone number, and a contact name. Or go online to roadid.com to make a tag you wear while working out. This way if there is a problem, people who find you know where you belong and to whom.
Working out in the dark doesn’t work for you? Me either. Too many werewolf movies in my past. This is the season of lunchtime walks and runs. And it will last in these parts until the snow flies and the ice builds up. Lunchtime walks mean lunchtime sweat. If you don’t have a way to change into workout clothes or wash up after your walk, bring on the baby wipes. An unscented baby wipe or two will take care of your perspiration. These are available in handy little travel packs. Or pack a washcloth with your walking shoes, and save a tree.
This is a good day to make a list of nearby gyms and workout classes you could add to your schedule to make up for less daylight activity. Consider things you can do with your friends and family. A belly dance or yoga class with the girls, a ballroom dance class with your sweetheart, a pool membership and some swimming lessons for the family? Tennis anyone? Indoor courts are popping up everywhere, and to keep them full, the courts offer inexpensive tennis lessons for all ages.
More and more schools are keeping their gyms open later for community play time. Does your neighborhood park have good lighting? Is it time to campaign for that? And consider your own yard. You might add some lighting to keep your driveway basketball court useful at least until suppertime.
It’s easy to crawl inside and hibernate when the light leaves us. But don’t be tempted. You’ll feel better and adjust more easily to these short days if you stay active. Make your own light, and keep going.
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