Winter walking does a body good. It fights inflammation, burns extra calories, fires up those endorphins and clears the mind. But winter walking does present some challenges and requires a little extra effort to stay safe. Here are eight things to be mindful of:
Beware the Ice. Winter walking can be treacherous. Watch out for ice, especially “black ice” on roads that can be difficult to see. Assume that anything that looks wet or shiny is likely icy and avoid it if possible. If your path requires you to traverse an icy patch, take smaller steps, keep your knees slightly bent and slow down your pace. Keep your hands out of your pockets for a little extra balance.
Dress for it. Wear layers, warm socks, hand warmers, hat and gloves (or mittens which are typically warmer than gloves). Avoid cotton which can get damp and make you chilled. For a little more dressing for cold weather walking advice, check out our Dressing for Winter Walking video.
Ditch the gym shoes. Select footwear that is warm and has sufficient traction. Many gym shoes have smooth bottoms and mesh uppers -- not great for winter walking.
Start slow. Your body and muscles will take a bit more time to warm up in the cold weather so start out a bit more slowly than you might in warmer weather.
Drink up. You might not feel it, but walking in the dry winter air can be dehydrating so drink up, before, during and after your walk.
The eyes have it. The winter sun can be sneaky and snow or ice can magnify what sun there is. Don’t head out for a winter walk without a good pair of sunglasses.
Everything’s better with a friend. It’s always a good idea to walk with a buddy but even more so in the winter when there may be fewer people around and the risk of falling can be slightly higher.
Heart first. For those with heart or respiratory conditions. Walking in winter taxes your heart and respiratory systems so before you head out for real winter walking, check with your doc.
Most of all, don’t let a little cold weather keep you from getting up, getting together and getting out.