Get Out There

How to Walk Safely in Winter

On Fridays, we talk about travel and the importance of getting outside, we will soon be resuming our digital road trip. But, getting out where you are is just as important as seeing new sites. You don’t have to go on a ride to see nature, you just have to walk out your door. Much of the country has snow and ice and, this week, we are reviewing some safety tips for walking in winter.

Colder weather, as well as ice and snow, changes how we interact with the great outdoors. Many of us view winter as a time for hibernation and watching the world from the couch. But, the health benefits of walking don’t stop just because it’s chilly. Even short periods of inactivity can have long-lasting health impacts. Being healthier and getting out is an excellent new year’s resolution. We are firm believers in starting our plans for our yearly goals.

Outerwear is important. Cold air can be harmful to your health. Staying bundled up aids your immune system. Moreover, if you live in a place with particularly cold winters, know how long it’s safe to be outside. Both frostnip and frostbite are serious injuries. If you are unsure of how cold is too cold, you can find a guide here. If getting outside isn’t an option in the winter, be sure to walk around the house or go someplace warm to walk — be it the mall or the Y.

Additionally, gloves are excellent for a lot of reasons. Brightly colored gloves — as well as bright coats, hats or scarves — can make you more visible to vehicles. They also keep your hands out of your pockets. You can quickly move your arms to maintain balance on ice and catch yourself if you are falling. We prefer nonslip waterproof gloves. If they are waterproof, they help your hands stay dry and retain heat, nonslip gloves can help you stand should you suffer a fall. Hip protectors are a great piece of clothing to own at this time of year. Should you fall, they give you extra passing to cushion the impact. Falls are dangerous and can permanently negatively impact health.

Carrying a bag of grit, or kitty litter can assist you should you see an ice spot you cannot avoid. Place one foot down firmly before lifting the other off the ground. Shuffling can also help you get over ice — penguins do it all the time. Pick your shoes carefully before going out. Your sneakers or loafers are fine for everyday life, but make sure the shoes you wear match the weather and have warm shoes with soles with grip. Walking with a buddy can also help prevent falls and assist you in getting back up should you suffer a fall.

Call your local government if there is a lot of ice in your area. Sometimes grit trucks miss a street or sidewalks that should be cleared are left untreated. Some areas make special exceptions for older folks or people with mobility issues and will help clear paths to your house or driveway. Watch your step, don’t trust that an area that should be cleared has been cleared effectively. Eighty percent of falls outside the house during the winter occur on sidewalks or parking lots that one would expect to be safely handled.

If you have any mobility problems, speak to your doctor about the best ways for you to get out and about in these cold months. And, if you are someone who likes hiking or walking off of maintained paths, be sure to tell someone where you are going so they can expect you back. +Armed with these tips, we hope you get outside this winter!

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