Simple Exercises to Keep You on Your Feet in Winter Weather

When the weather turns slick, there’s an uptick in injuries from falls. Stay on your feet with these easy exercises designed to improve your balance.

The temperatures are dropping, and snow will be falling any day now. There is inevitably a rise in injuries when the weather turns slick and slippery. A tumble is no way to celebrate the coming holiday season, and improving your balance can be a way to help you stay on your feet and avoid a potential broken bone. Research has provided strong evidence that regular physical activity can reduce falls by almost a third in mature adults.

Any strength training helps to improve balance, but the following exercises are focused on improving your balance. Although most people can perform this routine safely, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor if you have any concerns.

Leg Raise

Stand behind a sturdy chair with your feet together and your hands on the chair back for balance. Slowly raise your right leg straight out to the side, keeping your knee straight. If you can raise your foot eight inches off the floor, you are doing great. Pause, hold, and then slowly lower your foot back to the floor. Do eight to 12 repetitions, and then repeat with your left leg. If you want more of a challenge, wear ankle weights while doing this exercise.

Single-leg stand

Stand behind your sturdy chair with feet together. Lift one foot and balance for up to 30 seconds; use the back of the chair to steady yourself as needed. Lower your foot to the ground, adjust your footing, and then lift the other foot. Repeat this balancing exercise two to four times on each leg. If you find that you need the chair for support, focus on improving your balance until you no longer need the chair.

Heel-to-toe walk

Stand comfortably. Lift your right foot to take a step, positioning your right heel directly in front of your left foot, with your right heel just touching your left toes. Continue to take eight to 12 steps with your heel and toes touching as you walk forward. If you need support, try walking with one hand on a counter as you move forward. Repeat two to four times, and focus on getting yourself to the point where you no longer need the counter for balance.

These exercises are a simple way to improve your balance to help safeguard your safety through our icy Minnesota winter months. With a little preparation, you’ll have less trouble staying on your feet to enjoy all of the activities that the holidays have to offer.

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  • Catie Boyum, PT, MA

    “Watching patients succeed in recovery as the result of the education and tools received in PT is the intangible reward of my job. I am only the tour guide — the true worker is the patient.”

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