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Safety tips for running at night

Often, days are so packed with carting kids to extracurricular activities and making dinner that the only time to work out is in the evening. As it turns out, squeezing in a run after the sun sets may be optimal for your body’s biological clock. Dr. Michael Smolensky, a professor at the University of Texas, Austin, explained to The Wall Street Journal that our joints and muscles are about 20 percent more flexible in the evening. As such, jogging at night may reduce your risk of injury.

That being said, the darkness poses its own threats, and injuries may occur in other ways than from a lack of stretching. Use these tips the next time you exercise outside after dark:

“Running with a buddy may improve your performance.”

Run with a friend

There is safety in numbers, and running with a friend may make you less of a target for a robbery. Plus, if you suddenly slip on an unseen branch, for example, your workout partner can help you get home safely. What’s more, bringing a buddy along may actually improve your performance.

Researchers from the Society of Behavioral Medicine tested three groups of participants to evaluate this theory. The control group exercised on stationary bikes alone, the second biked with partners and the third pedaled with partners, but researchers told them they were measuring results based on the weaker person’s performance. The second group experienced an 87 percent increase in how long members exercised compared to the control group. Meanwhile, the third, team-centric group exercised more than twice as long as the control group.

Wear reflective clothing

Neon shades of pink, green and orange are all excellent options for making yourself visible to others. Franklin Smith, a 3M engineer, explained to Women’s Health that these fluorescent colors emit longer wavelengths of light, making them seem brighter to the human brain. Always wear this type of gear on parts of your body that move more drastically to better catch the eye of other runners or oncoming cars. For example, a passerby would more readily notice a reflective headband or bracelet than shorts.

Ditch the ear buds

While your workout playlist may deliver powerful motivation, listening to it robs you of one of your body’s key lines of defense: your hearing. For example, what happens when a car with broken headlights approaches you from behind while you run? You have no visual or auditory clue to the oncoming danger if you listen to music. What’s more, drivers may not see you from inside the car with limited availability of light.

Tell someone where you’re going

Let your spouse or a trusted neighbor know what time you run and what paths you take so that someone is always aware of your location. This way, if an accident happens, such as tripping on a curb that isn’t as apparent at night, there is a higher chance that someone will know you’re gone and where to possibly find you.

When you get home, don’t forget to unwind by using your personal massager. The increased heart rate that follows most workout regimens can make it difficult to fall asleep, which can be especially problematic in the evening. A Journal of Holistic Healing study demonstrated that just three minutes of a slow-stroke back massage can promote a better night’s sleep.