November 24, 2020
By Heather Avery, Patient Safety Consultant, Fredericton/Upper River Valley.
Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury-related hospitalization in every age group in Canada. Many falls are preventable and for adults, prevention starts with physical activity.
November is the time to start preparing for winter physical activities. Regular physical activity during the winter months could include walking, and it’s important to be prepared for winter conditions such as temperature and snowfall.
- Monitor the forecast and plan ahead. Dress in layers so you’re prepared for changing winter weather. Stay warm by wearing a hat, scarf, and gloves.
- Wear bright or reflective gear so you can be seen by drivers, cyclists, and other walkers
- Choose warm, stable footwear — look for well-insulated and lightweight footwear with a
non-slip tread sole.
- Consider using a cane, walking poles, and ice grippers on footwear and assistive devices when outside.
During your walk:
- Be aware of your surroundings and scan for hazards. Black ice is often not visible.
- Watch for ice, cracks, and uneven or changing surfaces. Walk on designated and clear paths Consider walking with a friend. Take your time and ask for help if needed.
- Keep your hands out of your pockets to help stay balanced.
- Give your eyes time to adjust when transitioning from outdoors to indoors or vice versa.
More Helpful Tips
- Keep your doctor informed of your physical activity level. Medication could increase your risk of falling.
- If you find yourself walking on ice, move slowly and think about your next move. Keep knees loose, shorten your strides and shuffle your feet. Wet leaves, rain, and snow drifts can also be just as risky as ice.
- Take extra care when stepping off the last step of stairs. This is a common cause for a fall so use a hand rail when available for extra support.
Benefits of walking
– Improved mental, social, and physical health as well as better balance, posture, and muscle strength
– It reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and improves bone health to help prevent fall fractures
– It’s a good way to spend time with others
Enjoy winter walking and be safe!