It's the first winter snow fall in Boston, and we're slipping and sliding all over the place. And, hey, it's also the winter solstice! In celebration of the ice, snow, and darkest day of the year, let's review some tips on staying upright while you walk.
In this previous article published in the Globe, Tony LaCasse, a mountaineer and former winter rescuer in New Hampshire's White Mountains, advised walking like a skier to lower your center of gravity. "Know how to fall. One of the first things I teach kids learning to ski is to fall on their butt," LaCasse said.
Makes sense, except when I'm slipping on ice, pretty much the only thought I have is, "I'm falling!"
Perhaps the best approach is to prevent those falls in the first place. Walking like a penguin could be helpful, Heather Urquhart, a biologist and the manager of the penguin exhibit at the New England Aquarium previously told the Globe. Keep your knees loose, point your feet out slightly and extend your arms to the sides to keep your balance.
You should also try to avoid walking with heavy bags since they can put you off balance, and don't take long strides. If penguin-walking isn't for you, bend slightly forward and walk flat-footed. Take short steps or shuffle, as if you were 90.
Speaking of older folks, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force yesterday issued draft recommendations on preventing falls in those over 65 -- they're the leading cause of life-threatening injuries in that age group. The panel recommended exercise and physical therapy to improve gait, balance, and muscle strength; this would reduce the risk of falling by 13 percent, based on studies the panel reviewed. The task force also recommended making home modifications like adding nonslip tape to rugs or grab bars in bathrooms to reduce fall risk by up to 41 percent. And it recommended vitamin D supplements to reduce falling risk by 17 percent; no amount was specified for D but the average dose in the studies it looked at was 800 international units per day.
This is also the amount the Institute of Medicine recently recommended for people over age 70. Read our full report on the Institute's recommendations on vitamin D and calcium supplementation and log on to our 11:30 a.m. chat today with a leading vitamin D researcher.
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