The lights are bright …

We are moving steadily into fall in the Northern Hemisphere. Soon we will roll back the clocks and it will be dark by the end of the average workday. Factor in rain, sleet and snow, and both mornings and evenings will be darker earlier and longer.

Rainy window at night with lighter blue lights in the distance. Photo by Julius Drost on Unsplash

This isn’t a post about depression and managing SAD, although there is way more written about it now than when I first learnt about it 30 years ago. No, this post is about safety and outdoor fitness.

I used to be a runner. My favourite time to run was early in the morning around 6 ish. But when I first learned to run, it was in the evening and in a group. Nonetheless, one of my running classmates gave me a safety vest to wear after the first week as I had nothing reflective. Even in a group, safety and visibility was paramount.

A few years after, when my knees said enough, my running days converted to trail walking. Other family members took up walking or biking to get to work or school. I could walk mid day but other family members encountered less than stellar conditions before nine am and after 4 pm in the fall and winter.

One evening I was leaving the supermarket and encountered a group of runners wearing a variety of neon tubes that changed colour. I was entranced. The runners were lit up like Christmas trees and there was no overlooking their presence.

I rolled down the window and asked where such wondrous items could be found. On the Internet of course. Thus informed, I went home, searched, purchased, and duly waited for its arrival.

There’s any number of styles and sources available now. Mine is easy to put on and easy to use. Not only do I get a choice of colour, I can also set the lights to flash intermittently.

Now I am fully aware that I cannot rely on my light-up vest to be 100% responsible for my safety. Like any person who identifies and lives as female, personal safety is second nature when engaging in the activities of daily life including fitness. Individuals who identify and live as men have only visibility to worry about for the most part.

For example, if you are a runner, you may think about changing your route or letting someone know your route and the usual time it takes for you to complete it. You may decide to rearrange your work schedule so you can work out at mid-day instead of the early evening or morning. Perhaps you plan your workouts to coincide with the best bus schedule or maybe you have been eyeballing the new safety alarms that screech louder than a toddler thwarted on the playground.

We worry about safety when we take on new fitness activities. Have you got someone to spot you with weights? Have you learned how to use the machines properly? Do you understand how to adjust for modifications in yoga or Pilates? But how many of us engage in safety practices without consciously thinking about them?

My decision to purchase a light-up vest was a conscious safety decision. My need to be visible and safe was not just rooted in wanting to avoid being hit by a car, but it was linked to all things I do to be personally safe, many without consciously realizing why I was doing them.

I’m curious: what are some of the things you do to be safer when the seasons change? Let us know in the comments.

MarthaFitat55 lives and works in St. John’s, NL.

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