November is National Falls Prevention Month, and this year’s theme is “Be Ready, Be Steady”. This is a reminder of the importance of physical activity throughout the year as a way to help prevent falls and fractures.
Physical activity is an important part of healthy aging. Walking is just one winter activity to get you moving! Regular physical activity during the winter months could include walking, snow shoeing, or shoveling. Get creative and have fun this winter! It is important to be prepared for winter walking conditions. Many things can impact your safety while you walk including footwear, balance, medication, distractions, vision, hearing and environmental factors such as temperature and snowfall.
- Keep your doctor informed of your physical activity level. Medication could increase your risk of falling!
- Walking reduces the risks associated with heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, and improves bone health to reduce the risk of fractures from falls-plus it is a good way to spend time with others.
- Before walking, monitor the forecast and plan ahead. Dress in layers so you are prepared for changing winter weather. Stay warm by wearing a warm coat, 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. If you are very active, replace your boots every 1-2 years.
- Consider a cane or walking poles, use ice grippers on footwear and assistive devices when outside.
- Be aware of your surroundings and scan for hazards. Black ice is often not visible to the eye.
- Watch for ice, cracks, and uneven or changing surfaces. Walk on designated walkways and clear paths. Try walking with a friend. Walk on an indoor track or in a mall if possible.
- 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 be as risky as ice.
- Take extra care when stepping off the last step of stairs. This is a common place for a fall. Use the hand rail when available for extra support.
- Dehydration can make you dizzy, which increases the risk of falling. Drink 6-8 glasses of water each day to stay hydrated.
Video: Reducing Seniors' Falls, Move-Improve-Remove