When it's dark or wet out (or both) wear reflectors and light clothing so you can be seen.

Safety Gear Guide for Exercising in the Dark

With the solstice at hand, we’ve reached that time of year when darkness falls before we’re off work and our morning runs may take place before sunrise. But just because it’s dark out doesn’t mean you have to opt for the treadmill.

Invest in a few pieces of visibility gear, follow a few safety rules, and you can run or walk at night or in the early morning feeling secure that you’ll be seen.

1. Let Your Feet Flash. Reflective running shoes are a must for anyone who runs regularly at night. Because your feet are the fastest moving part of you, they will flash in the streetlights, alerting motorists.

2. Banish Black. You want to be wearing light colored clothing that will show up in headlights. Think bright – fleeces in white, yellow, and day-glo colors like orange and green will help you be seen.

3. Shine in the Light. Wear an orange reflective safety vest or clothing with reflective stripes on the front, back, and sides. Anything that flashes is great. One of the simplest options: “Slapit” reflective safety bands you just snap on. Put them around your wrists, ankles, or arms, then just squeeze a button to activate the LED light.

4. Be Weather Wise. When it’s raining, foggy, or misty, visibility is even worse than on a clear night. And wet or icy streets can be slippery. Wear shoes with soles that grip and stay well back from the street on wet nights.

5. Wear a Headlamp. They’re easy to find, they allow you to be spotted from further away, and hey, they help you see, too. Sports stores sell lightweight versions with adjustable beams, including colored lights and a strobe setting. Another option: A baseball-style cap with LED lights embedded in the brim.

6. Go in Groups. There’s safety in numbers, so recruit a walking partner or team up with a local walking group.  If your schedule is too complicated for groups, find one running or walking buddy and set a schedule.

7. Choose lighted routes. When walking or running near your work or home, choose broad, well-lit streets and paths. Avoid cutting through parks, parking lots, or narrow dim streets, even if it means going the long way around.

8. Let Your Ears Hear. Leave the headphones at home when you exercise at night. You need to keep your ears clear so you can hear cars, bicycles, people, or dogs coming up behind you.

Gear up and be smart, and the short days of winter don’t have to dampen your enthusiasm for exercising.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.