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Media Coverage 2019

The October/November 2019 issue of the SCOOP published an article titled "Winter- Embrace it and Stay Active". The article provides tips for staying active in winter and concludes with a reference to the Fall Prevention Month take action resources.  

Winter- Embrace it and Stay Active

It’s tempting to stay inside and cocoon for the winter but fall prevention experts recommend keeping active.  Walking helps us to avoid falls because it improves our balance, strength and posture.  A brisk, invigorating walk is also a great way to enjoy a change in scenery, lift your spirits and socialize. 

Getting started

  • Begin gradually and build stamina.
  • If you haven’t been physically active, increase your walking every day. Join a walking group such as Walk-on, KFL&A Public Health’s indoor walking program, or organize a neighbourhood walk.  
  • Check out other exercise options by calling 211 or visit https://www.southeasthealthline.ca/.

Walking in the Great Outdoors

  • Choose clothing that is bright and reflective so you can be easily seen.
  • Check the conditions to decide what to wear. Dressing in layers keeps you comfortable and allows you to make changes as you warm up.
  • Choose footwear that is stable, well-insulated and with a non-slip sole. Visit www.ratemytreads.com for winter boots that have been tested in different winter conditions.  Not all brands have been tested but you can see some that have a good rating for slip resistance.
  • Monitor the weather. Do a different activity if it is too icy, windy, cold or an otherwise hazardous day. Many falls happen on days following an ice storm.
  •  Use canes, walking poles, ice-grippers and other assistive devices to help prevent a fall.

Plan ahead

  • Tell someone where you’re going and for how long.
  • Wear sunscreen, especially around your ears and lips, when the UV index is high. Even when it’s cold the sun’s rays can cause harm.
  • Bring your cell phone in case you run into difficulty.
  • Know where the washrooms are.
  • Walk with your hands free; not in your pockets. If you start to slip, you can regain your balance easier if your hands are free.
  • Scan your environment for dangers. Look for trip hazards, black ice, cracks, uneven and changing surfaces, and objects that block your way.
  • Walk on designated paths and look for areas with benches to rest.
  • Move slowly if you find yourself walking on ice. Keep your knees loose, shorten your strides and shuffle your feet. Wet leaves, rain and snowdrifts can be as risky as ice.
  • Take extra care on the last step of stairs. This is a common place for a fall. Use the handrail whenever possible for support.
  • Give time for your eyes to adjust when going from outdoors to indoors and vice versa, especially if you have glasses with lenses that turn dark in sunlight.
  • Take your time and enjoy the walk.

After your walk

  • Assess how you feel. If you are sore, switch to shorter walks and gradually increase your walking time.
  • Stay hydrated. Dehydration can make you dizzy. This increases the risk of falling. Women need 9 cups of fluids each day; men need 12.
  • Look out for others. Inform your municipality about any trip hazards that are their responsibility.

Helpful tips

  • If you drive to a walking area, get out of your car slowly. Turn your whole body out of the vehicle and place both feet firmly on the ground before standing up.
  • Plan your walks for when you are well-hydrated and not overly hungry.
  • Maintain a regular schedule of vision and hearing checks to ensure you are fully aware of potential hazards.
  • Keep your doctor informed of your physical activity level. Medication could increase your risk of falling.
  • Take your time. This is the best tip of all!

For more information on physical activity for older adults go to www.csep.ca/

If you would like more information to keep yourself independent by avoiding falls, the partners for Fall Prevention Month have a toolkit of resources including a large section for older adults and their caregivers. Visit www.fallpreventionmonth.ca. Contact KFL&A Public Health for more information on fall prevention resources and programs in the community, 613-549-1232, ext. 1180. 

 “Adapted and reprinted with permission from Huron/Perth Boomers Magazine www.huronperthboomers.com by authors Marguerite Thomas and Emily Powell”.