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If you exercise outside, take precautions in the dark

Twenty-five years ago today, I arrived in the US at JFK airport NY. At customs, they thought I was there for the New York Marathon (which was held yesterday). Not a distance runner at that time, thinking of running a marathon was not on my itinerary.
Well time flies, and now the days are getting shorter.
I love the long days and the warm, even hot, summers. So, needless to say I don’t really like the time change where the night begins way too early in my opinion.
I am one of those people where one hour does make a difference; I also need to adjust to it, which typically takes at least a week. Granted, in the fall I gain an hour so the adjustment is easier. But, when spring comes and that hour is taken away, it is quite a challenge for a couple of weeks.
By 6 p.m. tonight, the sun will be gone… goodness our Cross Country practice is just getting started! Just because the night falls quicker doesn’t mean your exercise program has to suffer. If you are a person that exercises outside, whether it is walking, running or cycling, make sure you take safety precautions seriously. Just because you can see motorists does not mean they can see you.
If you have the opportunity to exercise in daylight, that should be the first choice, but as we see in our Cross Country program, many people do not have that choice.
Salisbury Community Park off Hurley School road has been an amazing venue for us to practice safely on beautiful, well-manicured trails. I still believe it is one of Rowan County’s unfound treasures and we really appreciate the care they take. But, with the time change, they need to adjust the hours to keep people safe. We will be practicing in a neighborhood where there are sidewalks, well-lit roads and where we have communicated with the HOA. Even in a situation where the streets are well lit and mostly have sidewalks, we will still have flashlights with us and we will wear bright clothing. So much florescent clothing is available, which really stands out in the dark. Safety should be your number one concern while exercising period (or else it wouldn’t be good for your health would it?)
I drove on Jake Alexander Boulevard the other morning going to the YMCA and a person was walking in dark clothes on the white line coming towards me. Fortunately, I was in the middle of my lane but it scared the bazookas out of me when he popped up in heavy traffic. Even if walking or cycling is your form of transportation, the following safety features should be followed for your own good:
• Travel or exercise on low-traffic roads
• If at all possible, make sure you are in an area that is well lit
• Wear bright, florescent clothes, at least on top
• Have a flashlight with you. We found that little headlights don’t interfere with your running and are highly visible to traffic
• When cycling, go with traffic. NC law states so, and also have proper lighting on the front and back of your bike.
• When running, go against traffic. This way, you can see traffic coming.
• Let traffic know you appreciate them by giving space while passing you. I personally give them a wave.
• Run/cycle with a partner or group — safety in numbers. Salisbury Rowan Runners have daily group runs at any pace. Check out their website for times and places. Even at the YMCA, we have some running and walking groups that would love to have you.
We exercise for health so make sure to take the correct precautions to stay healthy.
So, even with this time change, we can continue our healthy lifestyle.
Ester H Marsh ACSM Cpt

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