Winter may be coming to a close, but in many areas of the country, ice and snow remain. No matter your age, the chances of losing your footing are much greater where there are slick streets and sideways. In February, we discussed a few tips from the Ohio Department of Aging’s Steady U initiative on how you can prevent falls in winter weather. We expand upon that list here:
Staying Healthy to Stay On Your Feet
Stay Limber with Light Stretching: Stretching should be a part of you routine no matter the weather. According to WebMD, regular flexibility exercises can help maintain your range of movement as you age. A bit of light stretching may benefit you even more when walking outdoors in snowy or icy conditions. Before heading out, warm up by doing some light stretches, such as the figure eight, the heel to toe, or dynamic walking.
Ensure You’re Drinking Enough Water: Studies have shown dehydration negatively affects balance. Once such study reported a 57.5 percent increase in balance errors for individuals in a dehydrated condition on unstable surfaces! To ensure you’re getting enough water, many experts suggest sipping water constantly throughout the day, even when you do not feel thirsty. For more on the importance of drinking enough water, download our free guide “Feed Your Body Right: Nutritional Needs After 50.”
Talk to a Medical Professional About Indoor Exercises: Has the snow or cold weather resulted in you being more sedentary? While it can be difficult to get your exercise in when it’s cold outside, regular exercise is key to maintaining muscle strength and overall physical health. Your doctor of physical therapist can offer you suggestions on indoor exercises that can help you maintain strength and balance when you can’t go outside.
Avoid Going Out
Take as Few Steps Outside as Possible: One of the simplest ways to reduce the likelihood of falling during winter is to reduce the number of steps you take on snowy or icy walkways. Contact your post office, newspaper, and garbage collector about service options that might make it safer for you when conditions are bad.
When in Doubt, Wait it Out: Not sure if conditions are OK for walking or traveling? Don’t risk it. Wait out the weather in your home. If you simply must go outside, ask a healthy family member, friend, or neighbor to assist you.
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