The winter season doesn’t mean that you have to find yourself stuck inside all the time. Staying active during this time of year means planning ahead and being aware of your surroundings. Here are some ways that you can protect yourself from winter concerns and enjoy the season.

Avoid falls

Ice, rain and snow can make walking outside more dangerous. Wear appropriate footwear that has good traction and non-skid soles. If you use a cane or walker, update the rubber tips this winter for better traction as well. Wait until sidewalks and steps are cleared of ice and snow before walking outdoors. If an area looks wet, proceed carefully as it could actually be ice. Get ice cleats that you can wear overtop of your boots for added traction on slippery surfaces.

Shovel snow with care

If you are responsible for clearing pathways, remember that your heart works harder when it is cold outside and is trying to keep your body warm. Shoveling snow is a strenuous exercise and can put too much strain on your heart. So take breaks as needed, or considering hiring someone to help you out.

Dress for warmth

Dressing in layers is a good idea both inside and outside during the winter season. Keep the inside temperature set at a comfortable level. This will encourage you to stay active instead of staying under a layer of blankets that keep you stationary for long periods of time. Outside, make sure you cover exposed skin with hats, gloves, warm socks. Protect your lungs and face by cover your face with a scarf, balaclava or facemask. Sporting-good stores will have a selection of winter protection accessories.

Stay hydrated

If you are heading out for a walk or winter hike, don’t forget your water. Bring an insulated water bottle with you and keep it in a pack as close to your body as possible so it won’t freeze.

Check the ice

You may enjoy snowshoeing, or cross country skiing on the frozen lake, but make sure the ice is solid before heading out. Only head out on ice that is checked by designated authorities on a regular basis and abide by any warnings. Stay aware of your surroundings and don’t take chances. If you’re not 100% sure it’s safe, stay off the ice.

Driving safety

Winter driving takes extra diligence to remain safe. Start by making sure your car is winter ready by replacing windshield wipers, checking your tires, and adding antifreeze as needed. Be sure to have your cell phone with you when you drive so you have backup in case of an emergency. Letting someone know if you will be traveling and when you are expected home is another way to stay safe. Remember that bridges and overpasses freeze first because of the open air that surrounds them, so slow down and watch for possible wet looking conditions that could indicate ice. Finally, stock your vehicle with basics for the season; first aid kit, blankets, booster cables, windshield scraper, shovel, sand or cat litter for traction, flashlight, etc.

Watch weather reports

Keep up on weather conditions when you are going outdoors. Plan your outings on days that have good weather conditions. Be ready to make alternative arrangements with errands, and outings with friends and family if necessary.

Prevent infections

Cold weather doesn’t make you sick, it is exposure to bacteria and viruses that affect us. Wash your hands frequently to prevent the spread of germs. Wash surfaces in your home, especially if you have been sick, in order to prevent another round of infection. Avoid being around people who are sick, and return the favor by avoiding social interactions when you are fighting an illness.

Stay in touch

Making weekly plans with friends or family will give you a good reason to get out of the house or plan for company. Make regular phone calls, even schedule days to check in with certain people so you can make sure that everyone is doing well, and you’ll notice or be noticed if someone misses a call.  Winter can be hard on some people, so during these touch points, make sure that everyone is physically and emotionally well. Everyone needs to know that someone cares for them, and it doesn’t take long to make someone feel good. Read our post and keep and eye or ear out for signs of depression.

You can enjoy the winter months and stay active at any age. Just stay safe, and warm up when you need to. Share this post and use #HealthyHabits #WinterSafety for a fun and active winter.