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5 tips for staying safe and healthy during winter

The colder months can present risks to anyone, but for those living with arthritis, staying safe and healthy can be more challenging.
Prepare for cold weather months, arthritis or not. Photo supplied.

The colder months can present risks to anyone, but for those living with arthritis, staying safe and healthy can be more challenging. 
While winter does present some hazards, you can help protect yourself by following these tips from Arthritis Society Canada.  
1. Move your physical activity indoors  
Slippery conditions, snow covered trails and fewer daylight hours can pose a risk for outdoor activity, but spending more time indoors shouldn’t mean less movement. 

Exercising on a regular basis has been shown to reduce the pain of arthritis. Use light weights or resistance bands to work on making muscles stronger while doing low-impact indoor activities such as stationary cycling or swimming to improve your cardiovascular health.  
2. Ensure a safe outdoor environment 
A well-lit pathway, as well as a salted or sanded walkway will help you avoid slips and falls, especially in the dark. 

If you use a mobility aid such as a cane or walker, replace the tips if they are worn out. Consider adding ice-pick-like attachments onto the end of your cane for additional traction when walking in the snow.  
3. Safe snow removal 
Consider having someone assist with snow removal to guarantee it’s done on a regular basis. If you decide to do it yourself, ensure you use proper shoveling techniques or invest in a snow blower. Keep the shovel close to your body and try to push the snow rather than lift. As with any physical activity, don’t overdo it and take regular breaks. 
4. Dress appropriately 
Ensure you’re dressed for the weather with the right footwear and layers for warmth. Choose boots that are waterproof, lightweight, comfortable and have good quality lining or insulation to keep the feet warm.  

Dressing in multiple layers will help you keep warm and reduce heat loss. As a guideline, wearing two or three thinner layers of loose-fitting clothing is usually warmer than a single thick layer. 
5. Stock up on essentials 
Be prepared in case of emergency. Keep your fridge, pantry and medication cabinet stocked with at least three to five days’ worth of supplies. Stock up on non-perishables and keep flashlights and batteries handy. 
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