This week, the majority of Americans “fall back” — setting their clocks behind by one hour. With the time change, darkness comes earlier and, according to a new survey we conducted, people change behavior as well.
Our survey asked 1000 Americans how safe they feel when exercising outdoors alone. One-third of the participants said they feel “on edge” engaging in outdoor activity, and all respondents see an earlier dusk as a reason to switch up their routines.
As winter approaches, 60% cut back on outdoor activities or limit them to daylight hours. Another 33% switch to indoor activities. The study also found that 34% take some added precaution such as a wearable safety device like Wearsafe or deterrent such as pepper spray. Eleven percent of those surveyed say they work out less when there are fewer hours of daylight.¹
The switch to fewer hours of daylight also coincides with the beginning of the holiday season, however. So while many of us may curb outdoor exercise, it’s likely that we’ll venture out late to shop, attend parties or travel — all normal activities that may call for heightened awareness when daylight hours end early.
“More and more people are opting for preventive safety measures when out alone,” says former Secret Service agent and security expert Rich Staropoli. “Making smart changes to your routine to help stay safe is consistent with law enforcement ‘best practices,’ and we particularly encourage people to re-examine their activity when it starts to get dark earlier.”
Staropoli has additional suggestions to stay safe outside all year long:
- Stay in the spotlight. When out after dark, walking with a flashlight or the light from your phone can deter an unwanted approach. Any additional light in your surroundings or on your person is always helpful.
- Travel on routes you know are safe. Use sound judgment and avoid taking risks with new running or bike paths alone unless you’ve thoroughly checked them out. Some towns offer lists with vetted trails to help you choose the safest courses.
- Make sure you’re aware of where/when you or your friends are exercising outdoors.When you’re not running together, make sure you communicate with your friends what route you’re taking and how long you’ll be gone. Most importantly, offer to be in each other’s Wearsafe networks if you decide to run alone.
- Learn self-defense. A lesson in self-defense can teach you how to protect yourself. Learning these techniques will also help boost confidence, make you more aware of your surroundings and develop a “fighter’s mentality.” In addition, self-defense is more reliable than a can of mace, and safer than a can of pepper spray.
Don’t let daylight savings time interfere with the way you want to live your life. With a few small adjustments, you can safely continue your favorite outdoor activities.
¹Respondents here were asked to check more than one answer, if applicable.