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How to Keep Your Balance this Winter

By Sandy Schroeder

Are you headed for a fall this winter? Kids, adults and seniors usually make their way safely through winter, but slush that quickly turns to icy patches, and sudden sleet and ice storms, can put you at greater risk.

Take Steps to Be Prepared

Consumer Reports recommends some simple safety measures.

Use fitness to fight back - If you are an inactive adult or a senior, strengthening your muscles and doing balance exercises might help you avoid falls. Use small weights to do a daily strength routine, or try a one-legged yoga tree pose to improve your balance. Hold onto a counter and balance on one leg as you form a V with the other leg. Then switch and repeat.

Get the right gear – Wear lace-up shoes that fit well and have deep grooved nonskid rubber treads. If you have to deal with a lot of ice, consider adding ice cleats, available in sports stores. If you regularly deal with deep snow, consider waterproof boots with nonskid treads.

Watch your step – Be aware of sudden weather changes and avoid stepping onto icy patches or uneven ground. If you have to walk over snow and ice, use short flat steps and be aware of limitations such as diabetic nerve damage in the feet.

Go prepared – If you normally use a cane or walker, consider ice-gripping tips. Always salt sidewalks and steps at your home and carry a bag of kitty litter with you to sprinkle on slippery spots when you are out.

Allow for handicaps – If you have vision problems, asthma, or other physical limitations, consider going out later or making arrangements to have assistance.

Dress warmly – Wear several layers of clothing that let you move freely. Choose wool or silk over cotton and always include a hat, scarves and gloves.

Carry a cell phone – When you drive or walk, avoid isolated areas and have your phone available if you need help.

Recognize hypothermia – Seniors can have trouble with body temperatures dropping to dangerous levels. The symptoms are shivering, arm and leg stiffness, slow reaction times and slurred speech. Symptoms should be treated at an ER.

In general, vote for safety first when winter storms create risky situations. Postponing shopping or arranging for deliveries can be a good choice. Carrying extra dry clothing in the car and avoiding traveling alone at night in isolated areas can also be wise choices.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Saint Peters, Mo.

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