SATURDAY, Jan. 17, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Falls are a major cause of injuries during the winter, but there are steps you can take to help stay on your feet, an expert says.
"Many falls can be successfully avoided or the impact minimized by applying a few basic strategies," Mike Ross, an exercise physiologist with the Loyola University Health System, in Maywood, Ill., said in a university news release.
- Check the traction of your shoes and boots. Better traction can help keep you more stable on slippery surfaces. If your footwear lacks traction, it might be time for a new pair.
- If it's slippery out, slow down and allow extra time to arrive at your destination. Don't hesitate to ask for help to cross an icy sidewalk or parking lot. Most people are happy to help in such situations, Ross said.
- Have a plan. Before you go out, ask yourself, "If I slipped and fell here, what would I do?" Carry a cell phone. It could prove crucial if you fall and can't get up, and no one is around to help you.
- Exercise your legs regularly to keep them strong. This could make it much easier for you to get up if you do fall. To exercise your legs, walk up and down stairs repeatedly or do a set of 10 squats out of a chair a couple of times a week, Ross suggested.
- At home, keep a shovel and salt indoors, so that you don't have to walk on a slippery sidewalk to get them. Check the railings leading to your front door to make sure they're sturdy enough to provide support when it's slippery.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers more winter health and safety tips.