<< Back

How Balance Techniques, Exercise Help You Stay on Your Feet on Snow, Ice

January 17, 2022

Winter means freezing temperatures, snow and ice. With that mix, the risk of injuries resulting from slips and falls increase. Exercise and balance can reduce the risk of falling. Mitchell Nyser, exercise physiologist with Hartford HealthCare GoodLife Fitness, shares some tips on how to stay on your feet this winter:


Many areas of our body have to work together for perfect balance. The more we practice balance techniques, the more we become in sync with our bodies and the more our bodies become in sync with our environment. This type of healthy, cyclical practice eventually makes it easier for us to engage in daily, dual-task activities without the focus being solely on the next step we take.


Regular, moderate physical activity is important for seniors. Inactivity weakens the body and exercise makes you stronger. Physical activity can reduce pain in joints and muscles and improve mobility and balance. Exercises that improve balance and coordination, are the most helpful. Here are some tips to be mindful to avoid slips and falls:
  • Plan your trips around the weather. If you don’t need to go out, don’t. Wait for the weather and sidewalks to clear.
  • Give yourself enough time. Your chances of falling increase when you are running late and rush.
  • Ask for help. Have someone help you cross the street or navigate an icy patch.
  • Choose the right shoes. Be aware of your footwear and choose boots or shoes that have the greatest traction.
  • Pay attention. Walk consciously. Be alert to the possibility that you could quickly slip on an unseen patch of ice. Avoid the temptation to run to catch a bus or beat traffic when crossing a street.
  • Dress warm. Focus on our next step rather than how cold you are.  You never know how long a simple trip to the mailbox will end up taking. Wear gloves, so you can keep your hands out of your pockets to help you balance.
  • Watch out in parking lots. Be extra careful getting in and out of your car. Hold on to your door or car as you get out to give yourself extra support. Watch for cars stopping and sliding in parking lots.
  • Keep your vision sharp. Poor vision can make it harder to get around safely.  Have your eyes checked annually and wear your glasses to help you see the most clearly.
  • Walk like a penguin. When walking on ground that is slippery from ice or snow, take short steps and walk as flat-footed as possible.
  • Keep your hands free.  Avoid carrying heavy items that may cause you to become off balance. Keep your hands available for handrails when walking up or down steps.
  • Remove snow when it’s safe to do so. Keep your porch stoops, steps, walks and driveways free of ice by frequently applying ice melting granules. This is the best way to prevent the formation of dangerous ice patches. Waiting for it to melt can sometimes take days!
  • Don’t forget your phone. If you do take a fall and need emergency care, call 911.
GoodLife Fitness, a program of Hartford HealthCare, is geared toward the older adult to build energy, strength and endurance for an active lifestyle. An exercise physiologist works one-to-one with each person to improve muscular strength, balance, cardiovascular health and self-esteem, while reducing the risk of falls and injuries. To learn more, click here.