It can’t be said enough: In winter, stay active! Exercise to improve your balance, flexibility and strength.
If you have opportunities to stay active, your balance will improve; this will help you walk in less-than-optimal conditions, like what we’re currently experiencing.
Being in better physical shape will improve your ability to catch yourself if you lose your balance. Your reflexes will be sharper and protect you if you fall. You’ll improve your chances of being able to get back up if you do fall.
Having good balance helps avoid falls
There are many exercises you can do to improve your balance. One of the easiest ones is simply to stand on one foot. Try to keep your balance for a full minute. If you can’t do this, you may have a balance problem. Exercise programs are good for everyone, and especially for people 65 and over, who have more risk factors. Group classes, personal training and physiotherapy are good options to help improve your balance, flexibility and strength. Contact your CLSC to find out if you’re eligible for the STAND UP! Program (PIED).
Tips to stay safe when you have to walk on snowy and icy surfaces
- Walk slowly and carefully. Wear anti-slip boots or crampons to walk on icy surfces. Don't forget to take them off your boots before going indoors: crampons slip on smooth floors.
- Watch out for slippery surfaces when going in or out of a building or car. Test potentially slippery areas with one foot.
- Remove snow and ice from entrances, stairs and sidewalks. Don’t hesitate to hire someone to help you.
- Use a backpack to carry your personal items. Avoid carrying things or walking with your hands in your pockets; this can get in the way if you lose your balance and try to catch yourself.
- Don’t walk if your view is blocked. Carrying large objects can make it hard to see the ground. This is especially dangerous when walking on a hill.
- Watch out for black ice.
- Report untreated surfaces to the City of Montréal by calling 311.
- Remember: If you see ice and snow, go slow!
People who feel more fragile
When there’s a weather cocktail, don’t go out unless you have to. Try to plan for groceries and medications. You can order by phone or online from some grocery stores and pharmacies; some will also deliver to your home.
- Walk like a penguin on icy surfaces:
- Look at the ground before putting your feet down.
- Take small steps, almost like dragging your feet.
- Keep your hands free and not in your pockets.
- Walk with your feet wider than usual.
- Bend forward slightly.
- Be careful when going up or down stairs and on uneven surfaces. Hold on to a railing or ask for help, if possible.
- Take another route if your usual one is too icy or the snow hasn’t been removed so you can avoid uneven surfaces.
- Go S-L-O-W-L-Y.