Staying Safe when Engaging in Outdoor Winter Exercise
by Harriet Epstein
Yes, older people should, and many do, engage in outdoor winter exercise, such as walking skiing, and ice skating. Thanks to the National Institute on Aging, the Mayo Clinic, and my daughter Susan, I have several tips on the best precautions to take.
- Exercise with a companion, if possible. Both should carry cell phones.
- Prepare for exercise by stretching or walking in place to prepare your muscles, and do the same after exercise to restore your muscles afterwards.
- Dress properly in several layers of loose clothing. Wear a waterproof coat or jacket in rain or snow. Don’t trust the “water resistent” label; only use items clearly marked “waterproof.” Complete your attire with a warm hat, scarf, and gloves.
- Be very careful on snow and icy areas such as sidewalks and snow fields. Select warm boots with special “non-slip” bottoms. You may also want to try walking sticks.
- Beware of Hypothermia, a drop in body temperature that could be fatal. If you start shaking, have slurred speech, and become confused, and exhausted, have your companion call 911, or do that for your companion if needed. Get the affected person inside. Make sure First Aid includes removing wet clothing and covering the person with warm blankets. Offer sweet, warm, non-alcoholic drinks.
- Only shovel snow if you have a strong back and arms, and just do a little at a time to avoid overstressing your heart.
- Check the weather forecast, and if it is too daunting, just stay inside and do some of your indoor exercises instead.
My best wishes for a safe, healthy, and fun time outside this winter.