Whether we like it or not, Alberta winters define who we are. We are a tough, resilient people with sunny dispositions. We have good days, brought on by warm chinook winds and bouts of spring like weather in January. As well as bad days, when its safer to skate to work than drive. But these winter woes are what make us who we are and allow us to see the sunshine even on -30-degree days. In Alberta, there’s always a bright side.
This winter, that bright side is our ability to WALK! We might not be able to gather with loved ones just yet, but what we can do is take care of our mental and physical health so when we gather again, we can do so healthily and happily.
There’s no denying being stuck at home without social interaction negatively impacts our moods. And we’re not saying one walk is going to change that. But it just might help more than you think. The simple act of walking can boost immune function, self-perception, mood and sleep quality. It can also reduce stress, anxiety and fatigue.
But, before you grab your boots and parkas, keep the following winter walking tips in mind for a safe, injury free walk. As more people are spending their time outdoors this season, Alberta emergency departments are seeing increased injuries related to winter recreation.
Walk like a penguin.
- The best way to avoid winter slips and falls is to walk with care. Try doing the penguin walk: take shorter shuffling steps, keep your arms at your sides instead of in your pockets, point your toes out, keep your centre of gravity over your feet, bend slightly and walk flat footed.
Wear proper winter gear.
- Dress for the weather by wearing a high-quality jacket, hat, scarf, thick socks and boots with slip-resistant soles and good ankle support. Mittens will keep you warmer than gloves, and your layers should be kept a little loose, so your body heat has somewhere to go. Finally, don’t forget about your eyes: even in winter, you want to wear sunglasses with an ultraviolet (UV) A/B certified seal.
Wear bright or reflective clothing.
- A typical winter day in Alberta averages only seven hours of sunlight, so it’s important that you remain visible in the dark. Wear something bright and/or reflective if you’re walking so drivers can see you. If you have a four-legged friend, give them a reflective collar or LED collar light so they can stay safe too.
Learn more about preventing falls and staying healthy from Finding Balance, a seniors fall prevention initiative supported by Alberta Blue Cross ®.