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Exercise as a woman, at dark, alone

no1wfno1wf Member, Premium Posts: 15 Member Member, Premium Posts: 15 Member
Not sure what to title this or how to explain myself, but here I go!

I'm currently on my weight loss journey, my lifestyle change, and I've lost more weight than I ever have before, which is why I'm so worried about messing this up. I started in March 2021 so here in the UK I've not had this issue before.

My exercise is that I walk my dog after work, alone. Now it's coming to the end of the year it's going to be dark when I wake up and dark when I'm leaving work, so I'm wondering how do I keep up my weight loss without being able to walk? I could just not exercise and just rely on my calorie deficit but that just doesn't seem right.

I don't go to the gym, plus everyone else would be there for the winter anyway I bet, and I don't lift weights, all I know is that walking works for me. I won't even wear headphones to listen to music when I'm walking as I'm hard of hearing in one ear anyway and only just hear bicycles when they're right next to me, and as a woman I just can't take that risk of someone sneaking up behind me. I live in Wales in the UK, very green, very woody, perfect place to hide a body type of place! I could carry a rape alarm or some deodorant but I don't want to be attacked in the first place! I have maybe one friend who could come with me but she's not on her journey so if she didn't want to go then I wouldn't be able to go either. Plus, 1 more extra person I don't consider myself safe, I'd just think the attacker would bring a buddy, y'know?

University has started again and even though walking after work cuts into my evening time when I should be studying I really want to see if I can manage to do both, but I can see myself coming up with the excuse like 'oh I can't go walking in the dark it's not safe, plus I should be studying anyway so I'll just stay in'.

I have a treadmill folded up in the living room, but I can't use it in there as my Dad will be asleep in that room in the evening. I could ask if I could move it into his bedroom for the time being which is an option but I'd feel bad that my dog isn't getting her exercise!

But at the same time I appreciate that I am lucky to be able to walk, to have such nice areas around me to visit and that there are definitely people less fortunate than me.

I guess I'm just wondering if there's anyone in a similar position and what adjustments did you make to your exercise so that you could keep it up?
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Replies

  • callsitlikeiseeitcallsitlikeiseeit Member Posts: 8,153 Member Member Posts: 8,153 Member
    When I was in college, I used to walk late at night with my german shepherd. Dog weighed 130 pounds. No one ever looked at me.

    I live in a rural area now, that's just not conducive to really walking/working out outside (beyond the routine work on our farm I do LOL) but of our 5 dogs... 3 of them, I wouldn't have any reservations about taking with me, because I know them, and know their personalities, and their capabilities. 3 of them (one on my photo, here) are actual livestock protection dogs, and they would extend that to me by default. Coyote, bear, or person, a threat is a threat.

    You mentioned your dog a couple of times. I know most people don't have the giant beasts I do LOL, but even small dogs are a deterrent and can be quite protective. I have a jack russell too, and hes a right... jerk (what i want to say would be censored LOL) hes a fierce little thing. Is there no way to take your exercise walk during lunch perhaps, and a walk with the dog in more populated areas for the dogs exercise (even if only 10 minutes) in the evening? or do your exercise on the treadmill in your room and a quick walk with the dog like i mentioned. can no one walk him during the day, maybe? (i take it he (she?) is a new addition)
  • kshama2001kshama2001 Member Posts: 24,889 Member Member Posts: 24,889 Member
    When I had a dog, we walked in the dark alone together. He was a 75 pound husky and looked intimidating, even though he was actually the biggest love bug in the world.

    For almost 20 years now I have carried pepper spray and a phone.

    uidzykuakaz6.jpg
  • springlering62springlering62 Member, Premium Posts: 3,798 Member Member, Premium Posts: 3,798 Member
    Not to scare you, but we had a terrible case here last month where a woman was walking her dog in a large and busy park in downtown. She was attacked, her dog presumably went after the assailant, who killed her and the dog. Dogs are just a deterrent.

    If you aren’t comfortable, listen to your gut.

    I often walk home alone from yoga after dark, about half a mile, and try to be super aware of my surroundings, especially since we have a large homeless population. I’ve always made it a point to acknowledge and greet our “regulars”, it’s the really transient ones I worry about.

    Could you ask friends, coworkers, Nextdoor, or FB friends if anyone would like to create a walking group? I did this via our private neighborhood FB page, and we had about six women, all neighbors, so always two or three of us walking together (til covid nipped that in the bud).

    I think, too, covid left our streets so empty here for months on end, that walking them was plain spooky. There were days when you’d barely see any cars, and I live in a very busy urban area. People are coming back out now. That helps a little with my own comfort level.

    I don’t feel like I’m in that British air commercial where the guy is standing the the middle of an empty city, shouting “”Where is everybody?!!!”

    “Why, they’ve all taken advantage of airfare deals and gone to London.”

    (It’s a running joke in our house.)

  • springlering62springlering62 Member, Premium Posts: 3,798 Member Member, Premium Posts: 3,798 Member
    And don’t forget to set up Siri or the android equivalent on your phone and/or watch, so you can do a voice call to 911.

    And the “find my device” apps.

    My Apple devices also have an emergency call button, but by the time I found it……much more efficient to say,”hey Siri, call….l

  • no1wfno1wf Member, Premium Posts: 15 Member Member, Premium Posts: 15 Member
    When I was in college, I used to walk late at night with my german shepherd. Dog weighed 130 pounds. No one ever looked at me.

    I live in a rural area now, that's just not conducive to really walking/working out outside (beyond the routine work on our farm I do LOL) but of our 5 dogs... 3 of them, I wouldn't have any reservations about taking with me, because I know them, and know their personalities, and their capabilities. 3 of them (one on my photo, here) are actual livestock protection dogs, and they would extend that to me by default. Coyote, bear, or person, a threat is a threat.

    You mentioned your dog a couple of times. I know most people don't have the giant beasts I do LOL, but even small dogs are a deterrent and can be quite protective. I have a jack russell too, and hes a right... jerk (what i want to say would be censored LOL) hes a fierce little thing. Is there no way to take your exercise walk during lunch perhaps, and a walk with the dog in more populated areas for the dogs exercise (even if only 10 minutes) in the evening? or do your exercise on the treadmill in your room and a quick walk with the dog like i mentioned. can no one walk him during the day, maybe? (i take it he (she?) is a new addition)

    Unfortunately I only get 30mins for lunch so there's no way I'd get anything done during then. And I live with my Dad who has COPD so he can barely walk himself nevermind the dog lol Our dog isn't a new addition but I've never seen what she'd be like if anyone went for me. She absolutely loves other people and dogs so I wouldn't be surprised if she wanted a fuss! :D I think the treadmill will be my best option for now, the dog would still get her full walk on the weekends I'd just feel bad for her. My area isn't super rough but you do hear of things happening locally and dog theft especially is quite prevalent so I'm just as worried that someone would try and take her too!
    When I go running, which is typically before dawn, I carry pepper spray with me in a place I can reach easily. I know how to use it and it is legal to carry where I live. I pick areas where there is adequate lighting and lots of people within yelling distance. I put an earbud in one ear only and it's kept at low volume - I listen to podcasts or audiobooks and not loud music. I also carry my phone with GPS enabled and identification attached to my person. I am honestly not particularly worried about being attacked by a person - if I were attacked by anything the most likely culprit would be an unleashed dog. I do not live in an area that would be considered high crime, and even so the stats suggest to me that I am very unlikely to be attacked by a stranger, and even less likely a stranger who would be so intent on causing harm that he would continue if I showed any resistance at all (more risky for them.)

    Sometimes when I have been running a man will run behind me and I will admit that I get nervous about it if it continues for more than a couple blocks. In those cases I cross the street or change my route. I have noticed that sometimes a man will cross instead, or quickly pass me while loudly announcing his presence ("on your left" etc) and I appreciate that effort to make me feel safer - for any men reading the thread, this can be a very kind thing to do: remember we don't know you or what you're up to, and you're generally bigger and stronger than us and we know it!

    All that said, I don't know your area. Your level of concern indicates to me that a gym might be the best option when it is dark out. Does anyplace near you offer self-defense classes? There's a lot that's useful there and the instruction isn't just physical, though that part can be helpful too.

    I agree, my phone has all the relevant things enabled, my watch has an emergency call button too. I wish pepper spray was legal here but it's not, so a deodorant would be next best. There are self defense classes held in the gym actually, which isn't a bad idea, but in my head it just still seems to be a silly idea to go walking in the woods in pitch black y'know? Gym I think would be a last resort since it takes time to travel there and I always feel like I'm paying to wait for people to be done with the machines you want to use :D
    kshama2001 wrote: »
    When I had a dog, we walked in the dark alone together. He was a 75 pound husky and looked intimidating, even though he was actually the biggest love bug in the world.

    For almost 20 years now I have carried pepper spray and a phone.

    uidzykuakaz6.jpg

    Oh look so adorable! Mine is not so intimidating and absolutely loves people and other dogs, we always say if anyone broke into our house she'd lick them to death first! Pepper spray isn't legal here sadly but I do always carry my phone, but I suppose I could be mugged for that aswell.
    Not to scare you, but we had a terrible case here last month where a woman was walking her dog in a large and busy park in downtown. She was attacked, her dog presumably went after the assailant, who killed her and the dog. Dogs are just a deterrent.

    If you aren’t comfortable, listen to your gut.

    I often walk home alone from yoga after dark, about half a mile, and try to be super aware of my surroundings, especially since we have a large homeless population. I’ve always made it a point to acknowledge and greet our “regulars”, it’s the really transient ones I worry about.

    Could you ask friends, coworkers, Nextdoor, or FB friends if anyone would like to create a walking group? I did this via our private neighborhood FB page, and we had about six women, all neighbors, so always two or three of us walking together (til covid nipped that in the bud).

    I think, too, covid left our streets so empty here for months on end, that walking them was plain spooky. There were days when you’d barely see any cars, and I live in a very busy urban area. People are coming back out now. That helps a little with my own comfort level.

    I don’t feel like I’m in that British air commercial where the guy is standing the the middle of an empty city, shouting “”Where is everybody?!!!”

    “Why, they’ve all taken advantage of airfare deals and gone to London.”

    (It’s a running joke in our house.)

    Yeah I'd rather avoid any incidents at all but sometimes I'm like you can take my phone, do what you want to me, but do not touch my dog! My area isn't super bad but my dog can be anxious and nervous so we don't walk along roads because the car noises make her flinch, so we stick to the woods. But we do have a fair bit of dog crime, even to 'markers' appearing on gateposts to show which house has a dog etc.

    I wouldn't mind doing a walking group, though I don't know anyone that would walk with me but as you say local fb might help. I'd be too worried I'd be too slow or fast for everyone, I guess I'm too used to doing things on my own lol

    My watch has an emercency button where if I press it 3 times it sends a text to my dad with my location. Though it's bluetooth only so I'd need my phone to be nearby :(
  • ToffeeApple71ToffeeApple71 Member Posts: 13 Member Member Posts: 13 Member
    I won't exercise in the dark either. I totally get what you're up against.
    Can you do any home YouTube exercise videos? Home workouts are great, especially yoga or bodyweight exercises.
    Even a half-hour walk at lunchtime would benefit you. That's 150 minutes total Mon-Fri. Better than nothing!
    Can you stand at your desk rather than sitting?
    Increase your NEAT during the day? Anything that gets you moving.
  • LeeH31LeeH31 Member Posts: 286 Member Member Posts: 286 Member
    @no1wf When I was walking at night it was on a country road in the mountains. What surprised me is how many folks suddenly started sitting on their porch until I passed by, and how many were still there when I headed home. There was even one State Trooper that went out of his way to drive by and check on me. I always walked at the same time so everyone knew I was out there. They even left porch lights on for me. Never felt safer even though the houses were a quarter mile apart or more.

    Can you get to know the folks on your route, even stop in and ask if they will look out for you? Maybe they already are watching for you. Wave if you see them peeking!

    I also carried a blazing big spotlight used to see deer in the dark. It could've been used to land planes during a power outage. Any time a vehicle approached I shone it on the road in front of myself so they would see me. Also useful to blind anyone coming at you!
    edited September 15
  • Machka9Machka9 Member Posts: 19,604 Member Member Posts: 19,604 Member
    Can your father walk with you?
    Can you walk short blocks - even just down your street and back and down your street and back.

    I did those things when cycling in the winter before I married.
  • Hollis100Hollis100 Member Posts: 1,321 Member Member Posts: 1,321 Member
    @no1wf

    I traveled through Wales many years ago. Very beautiful area.

    You said you'd heard of some things happening locally. I agree with the above poster who said listen to your gut.

    Yes, find a way to use the treadmill.

    I also agree with the poster who suggested YouTube videos. I'm a fan of outdoor walking, not videos, but I've walked and danced to videos in severe winter weather. There's enough variety that you could probably find something. In the last year, I read about a man under COVID lockdown who kept up his marathon training by fast walking and jogging on his condo balcony over and over.
    edited September 15
  • claireychn074claireychn074 Member, Premium Posts: 567 Member Member, Premium Posts: 567 Member
    Taking a slightly different tack, if you’re at uni in the UK, see if they offer free self defence classes. I’m not suggesting you ignore your gut instinct but it could help you to feel more confident when you do have to go out and about (I used to teach teenage girls self defence as a martial arts instructor).

    Again, I’m not suggesting classes are a panacea, but anecdotal evidence from attackers (info gleaned from the Police) suggested that confident or ballsy-looking women are less likely to be targets (they don’t want someone who will scream, fight back or draw attention). So I used to teach confident body language and painful self-defence methods - but these will still never replace being safe in the first case. Most unis or student unions will have access to courses for you, and I always recommend them for normal life.
  • littlegreenparrot1littlegreenparrot1 Member Posts: 544 Member Member Posts: 544 Member
    There are probably other people in the area with dogs who have the same issue, well worth asking around other dog owners, to see if anyone would like to go out walking with you?
  • springlering62springlering62 Member, Premium Posts: 3,798 Member Member, Premium Posts: 3,798 Member
    If you have a flipbelt type runners belt or one of the Amazon knockoffs, it’s very easy to have your phone with you. I always wear pocketless leggings when out walking so keep my phone in my runners belt.

    My phone is also my wallet, so I also always have ID, credit cards (there’s a very tempting pastry stand in the middle of nowhere on my route) and easy volume control I can feel through the belt at my fingertips, for when I’m passing construction or on a heavily traveled road.

    It’s helpful to be hyper aware of your surroundings ans make mental notes, too. There’s a Union cemetery on one side of my neighborhood and a Confederate on the other. Both are empty at any time of the day, but I know the workers in the Union one would keep an eye on me, whereas I noticed homeless men from a couple of nearby encampments have taken up residence in the Confederate one. You wouldn’t notice if you weren’t paying attention.

    The guy who bathes in the lawyer’s fancy fountain frequently sleeps in the stairwell of an old converted cotton warehouse on the path, right in the center of town. And another has taken to sleeping in a shallow unused loading dock. Again, if you weren’t being aware, you’d never notice.

    You’ve got to be proactive.

  • penguinmama87penguinmama87 Member, Premium Posts: 910 Member Member, Premium Posts: 910 Member
    I think @springlering62 and @claireychn074 bring up really good points about confidence and speaking to people. For most anyone I pass by, I look at them directly in the face and say "hello." Many of these people I regularly encounter so we know each other by sight at this point, and it is meant to be polite and friendly, but it's also an assertion of confidence - "I see you, and I've looked directly at your face, and I'm not afraid."

    I would not do this with a person who was obviously mentally unstable, because you can't predict their behavior in the same way - I've never encountered it on a run but have in other situations while walking. My strategy then is to increase distance as much and as quickly as possible without drawing attention to myself.
  • cwolfman13cwolfman13 Member Posts: 39,594 Member Member Posts: 39,594 Member
    no1wf wrote: »
    Not sure what to title this or how to explain myself, but here I go!

    I'm currently on my weight loss journey, my lifestyle change, and I've lost more weight than I ever have before, which is why I'm so worried about messing this up. I started in March 2021 so here in the UK I've not had this issue before.

    My exercise is that I walk my dog after work, alone. Now it's coming to the end of the year it's going to be dark when I wake up and dark when I'm leaving work, so I'm wondering how do I keep up my weight loss without being able to walk? I could just not exercise and just rely on my calorie deficit but that just doesn't seem right.

    I don't go to the gym, plus everyone else would be there for the winter anyway I bet, and I don't lift weights, all I know is that walking works for me. I won't even wear headphones to listen to music when I'm walking as I'm hard of hearing in one ear anyway and only just hear bicycles when they're right next to me, and as a woman I just can't take that risk of someone sneaking up behind me. I live in Wales in the UK, very green, very woody, perfect place to hide a body type of place! I could carry a rape alarm or some deodorant but I don't want to be attacked in the first place! I have maybe one friend who could come with me but she's not on her journey so if she didn't want to go then I wouldn't be able to go either. Plus, 1 more extra person I don't consider myself safe, I'd just think the attacker would bring a buddy, y'know?

    University has started again and even though walking after work cuts into my evening time when I should be studying I really want to see if I can manage to do both, but I can see myself coming up with the excuse like 'oh I can't go walking in the dark it's not safe, plus I should be studying anyway so I'll just stay in'.

    I have a treadmill folded up in the living room, but I can't use it in there as my Dad will be asleep in that room in the evening. I could ask if I could move it into his bedroom for the time being which is an option but I'd feel bad that my dog isn't getting her exercise!

    But at the same time I appreciate that I am lucky to be able to walk, to have such nice areas around me to visit and that there are definitely people less fortunate than me.

    I guess I'm just wondering if there's anyone in a similar position and what adjustments did you make to your exercise so that you could keep it up?

    Doesn't seem right in what way? That is exactly how you deal with a decline in activity and/or exercise. My activity, both general and deliberate exercise tends to dip significantly in the winter months and I become more of a weekend warrior than regular daily exerciser for the same reason...dark in the AM and dark in the PM...not to mention freezing temperatures. I'm not very good about it, but the way to deal with that is to reduce my calorie intake.

    I've been at this since late 2012 and been more or less maintaining since spring of 2013 save for I'm bad about dropping my calorie intake in the winter so I usually put on 8-10 Lbs and then take it off in the spring. I'm planning to do better this year as I purchased a smart trainer for my bike late last winter and Zwift so that I can cycle indoors in the winter...we shall see how it goes as I much prefer to be outside.
  • cmriversidecmriverside Member Posts: 31,827 Member Member Posts: 31,827 Member
    I didn't read the whole thread, but you mentioned you felt bad for the dog not getting its walk if you use the treadmill.

    Dog can walk on treadmill, too. :) All it cares about is you and a bit of exercise. You could let it sniff right outside your door for its "outside" fix.
  • AKTipsyCatAKTipsyCat Member, Premium Posts: 210 Member Member, Premium Posts: 210 Member
    Is there a HS nearby that might have a track you can walk on? I wear reflectors, carry a blinky light, and bear spray. I live in Alaska so by next month it will be dark most of the day, and I routinely walk in single digit weather. Cold is never an excuse for me not to get out doors - because you can always dress for cold. (however, give me a hot day and I'm useless - LOL, can't really dress for heat.)
  • RedordeadheadRedordeadhead Member Posts: 1,002 Member Member Posts: 1,002 Member
    There are probably other people in the area with dogs who have the same issue, well worth asking around other dog owners, to see if anyone would like to go out walking with you?

    That's a really good idea, do you have any neighbours you could team up with? Bonus for you and it means your dog won't only get a walk 2 days a week, so win win!

    If your dog isn't walking Monday-Friday, how is she getting exercise those days, in a garden? Maybe you can join her and do some garden exercise too for your calorie burn - I know a few people who did this while gyms were closed and ended up enjoying being able to do it outside vs in front of the TV.
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