Jogging is the favored mode of exercise of millions the world over, largely owing to the fact that it requires no special equipment other than proper shoes and can be done virtually anywhere at any time. Although most joggers ply their trade in the early morning or during daylight hours, work and other obligations compel many joggers to head out the door after the sun sets. In many situations, this actually carries certain advantages.
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Beating the Heat
Jogging generates a lot of heat, and avoiding direct sunlight is perhaps the greatest advantage of running in the evening, especially for those who live in tropical or subtropical climates. The temperature difference between running between, say, noon and 4 p.m. and running after 10 or 10:30 p.m. may be as great as 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and when you run after the sun sets, your exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation by definition drops to zero.
Most people accumulate psychological stress as the day progresses, what with occupational, domestic and other concerns taking their collective toll on the psyche. This makes jogging at night an attractive choice. According to the MayoClinic.com, exercise helps relieve stress in a number of well-established ways. It promotes the release of endorphins, chemicals that boost your sense of well-being; it engenders a meditative mental state, leading to increased relaxation; and it improves mood, largely by boosting self-esteem and alleviating the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Regular exercise has been shown to improve sleep in a number of ways. Not only will it help you fall asleep more quickly, but also it appears to catalyze deeper sleep and reduce the number of times you awaken during the night; together, these lead regular joggers and other exercisers to report feeling more rested during the day. So if you have tendencies toward insomnia, a late-night jog might be just the thing for you, with the caveat that you should try to allow a couple of hours between the time you finish your jog and the time you hit the sack.
Most people with jobs work during the day, and not everyone has the chance to fit in a jog before work or during a lunch hour or half-hour. Therefore, many joggers have little to no choice but to run at night if they are to run at all. Not only that, but evenings offer conveniences that daytime typically doesn't, including less vehicular traffic and -- for those who prefer to run indoors -- fewer people waiting in line for a treadmill at the gym.
Although running in the evening offers several advantages to runners operating under certain lifestyle constraints, it also introduces a number of potential hazards. It is generally inadvisable to run on roads with a significant amount of traffic when it is dark outside, but if you cannot access sidewalks, lighted recreation paths or an indoor track or treadmill, you should wear reflective gear on your torso, both front and back. It is also wise to run with a partner, particularly if you are a woman, as this lowers the likelihood of being a victim of violent crime. Finally, avoid uncharted territory or routes known to include potholes, roots or other rough terrain, as your risk of ankle sprains, falls and the like increases greatly with decreased visibility.