One of the best ways to stay fit and reduce your stress is to go walking. However, this isn’t always easy to do when winter hits and it’s snowy and icy. You may be nervous about stepping foot in the snow and ice and worry about it being too cold.
While it may be challenging to do, it doesn’t mean you should opt to sit around instead and not get outside and enjoy some fresh air as you walk. Instead, learn some safe winter walking tips so that you can stay well and avoid injury or accidents. You’ll feel better once you get outside and get moving and spend some time in nature.
Invest in the Right Footwear
Safe winter walking and being able to be outdoors when it’s snowy or icy all begins with having the right and proper footwear. Without it, you may be setting yourself up for an accident or to have wet and cold feet when you return home. Invest in a good pair of winter boots with some traction before you head out to avoid a fall. You not only want them to be well-insulated and waterproof so your feet stay dry, but also to have a thick sole with non-slip tread. It’s best to choose a pair that’s lightweight, is made of natural rubber, and has wide low heels. The right pair of boots should keep your feet dry, you from slipping, and be comfortable to walk in.
Use Ice Grippers on Footwear
When it comes to winter safety or snow safety and foot health, you may also want to try using ice grippers. These can help you walk on the ice and hard-packed snow. However, be careful and mindful to not use them on smooth surfaces. They become slippery on surfaces such as stone, tile, and ceramic. You should be able to sit down and easily remove ice grippers from your boots. The extra traction these provide makes them great for hiking or walking in winter. Many of the styles out there also have a protected toe box and durable barrier which will keep your feet warm and protected.
Consider Using A Cane or Walking Stick
When thinking about additional walking and winter safety tips, you might also want to use a cane or walking stick to keep from spraining an ankle. If you have ski poles, these will work too. Just make sure what you choose to use is the right height for you. Hold your cane upside down and make sure it’s at wrist level to confirm. If you have questions about how to use one, speak to your doctor. It’ll help you keep your balance and keep you from falling should you slip a little.
If using a cane, you might also want to consider attaching a retractable ice pick to the end of it. Make sure you flip it back once you’re inside, because it’ll be slippery on hard or smooth floors. You can get picks at most drug stores, and they’re quite inexpensive. If further support is needed, then you can always think about using a walker too. It all depends on your level of comfort and what you believe your body can handle.
Wear A Hip Protector
As it relates to winter walking, another idea is to use a hip protector. The hip protector is essentially a lightweight belt or pants with shields to guard the hips. You’ll not only feel more confident walking around outside in the winter, but should you fall, it can help protect against a hip fracture. This device can help absorb the impact of a fall and protect the bone in case you do land on the ground. Make sure that when wearing it that the padding always stays in place over your hip bone.
Choose Bright Clothing
The days are shorter in the wintertime, and you might not have much daylight to do your walking. Regardless of the time of day, you want cars and other people to easily see you. Therefore, wear bright colors or reflective clothing so that you stand out. It’s especially important to do if it’s dark outside and it can be hard to see you. It’s also wise to dress in layers and stay warm as you walk in winter. Choose a warm hat, gloves, and scarf to stay warm and prevent heat loss. You’ll be able to go further distances and for longer periods when you’re bundled up and not too cold. When it comes to your clothing and outerwear, you should also not carry heavy belongings with you or in your hands so that you can stay steady. Be sure to wear your glasses or specs and hearing aids if you have them too, which will help with balance and concentration.
One of the best actions you take as you get outside and start walking in the winter is to slow down. Avoid going out when you’re short on time or in a rush. Make sure that you have plenty of time to go out walking and that you don’t go too fast. Keep your body as loose as possible and think about your next move or step before you take it. Be alert and look around, and be aware of your surroundings and the ground below you. You can better stabilize as you walk by spreading your feet to more than a foot apart. Another way to stabilize your body is to keep your knees loose and to let them bend a bit. You might even find if it’s very icy that you prefer to drag or shuffle your feet instead of lifting them up. Keep your head up and your hands out of your pocket to help you balance better.
Plan A Safe Route
It’s also helpful to think ahead and know the weather conditions and where you’ll be walking. Plan a safe route you can take and that may be less snowy or icy than other areas. Avoid tricky situations or paths and roads, and always be prepared for your walk mentally and physically. It’s all about being a more defensive walker and using care when walking, assuming that what you’re walking on will be slippery or icy. Avoid taking short-cuts and instead, use pathways and roads that have been cleared. Before you leave, shovel your driveway and spread sand or salt along the walkways so that you get off to a safe start. Also, choose to walk on well-lit roads or paths that are ready for walkers. It might also help to download a weather app so you always know the temperature and conditions outside.
Bring Your Phone
Unfortunately, accidents happen and you never know when you may slip or fall or need help right away. Falling is a serious hazard and you may not be able to get up on your own if you slip. In this case, part of the winter safety tips you should take into account is to bring along your phone on your walk. You want to be able to make a phone call and dial for help if you’re hurt and need assistance. It’s also a good idea in case you lose your way or get lost and it gets dark outside. Make sure your phone is not only with you but that it’s fully charged when you leave. While it’s good to have your phone with you, you also shouldn’t be on it or using it unless it’s an emergency. Try not to text and talk while you’re walking so you can concentrate on what you’re doing.
Walking in winter and staying safe on the snow and ice takes muscle and stamina. Therefore, work on getting fit before you head out and at home so that you’re in the best physical shape you can be for going outside. Improving your overall strength and balance will help you reduce the risk of slips and falls. Also, make sure your feet and ankles are healthy and in good working order which will also aid in keeping you safe in winter. Do some daily exercises at the gym or in your home to help you build strength and stamina for your walks. It may be as easy as riding a bike and doing some light weights when you have time.
You now have a better idea of what you can do to ensure safe winter walking. While you’ll be taking a risk doing so, it’s also good for your health and wellbeing to get out and exercise, especially in the winter. You’ll not only be fitting in some exercise but it’ll give your mental health a boost as well. Make sure you have the proper footwear and clothing to go walking in the wintertime and follow the other safety tips here that will help make sure you have a positive experience walking outside in the winter. Most importantly, go slow and take your time so that you aren’t rushing and can focus on the task at hand.