Revving Up
New Box of Crayons

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

It's warmed up again here.  I mean . . . it's a relative thing now, at this time of year.  But it's not THAT cold.  And all the snow has finally melted.  (I may even try throwing my bulbs in the ground later this week.  Because what have I got to lose???)  Slightly warmer temperatures and no snow/ice on the ground makes for easier outdoor walking, that's for sure!

Which got me thinking.  I know a lot of you walk outside as your primary fitness activity.  And it's hard(er) to get out there and do it in the winter, when it's cold and there's snow on the ground.  But it's not impossible!  (Just ask my sister, who walks every day -- even in Cheyenne's brutal wind and "sideways snow!")  I thought it might be helpful to share a few tips for winter walking - to keep us all moving -- and moving safely.


So.  Here we go.  My tips for winter walking:

Stretch a little before you get out there.  When it's cold outside, your muscles take a bit longer to warm up.  Help them out with a few quick stretches before you begin.  Get that blood flowing before you leave the house.

Watch your step.  Mind where you go when it's snowy or icy.  Keep to a moderate (or even a slow and careful) pace when there is ice or snow on the road.  If possible, walk on trails or the sidewalk or less traveled streets.  Watch out for those piles of plowed snow!  Seriously, take it easy -- because you don't want to fall.

Take smaller strides.  The longer your stride, the more likely you are to fall on an icy road.

Dress in layers.  Even though it's cold, a brisk walk can get your heart rate up and make you sweat.  If you're overdressed, you'll be uncomfortably warm, and that's no fun.  (When that happens to me, I usually take off my gloves for a while and unzip the top of my jacket.  I can always pop the gloves back on, or zip back up again if I get chilly.)  But . . . don't layer your socks!  You can better avoid blisters by wearing only single socks.

Wool!  (I don't need to tell the knitters out there about the benefits of wearing wool.)  Wool is your best layer.  Leave the cotton stuff at home!  (Really.  Cotton absorbs moisture -- which never works well when you're exercising.)

Pay attention to your visibility.  Wear something bright -- and something reflective if you're walking in the dark.  If it's dark, put on a flashing clip light.  Carry a little flashlight so you can mind your footing.  Or, better yet, go ahead and get yourself a headlamp.

Try some studded boots or "traction cleats" for your shoes.  When the roads are icy or snow-covered, I pull on my YakTrax.  They provide an amazing amount of stability and make walking outside possible for me in the winter.  My sister has some sort of studded boots that she wears for winter walking (I'll ask her for more information if you're interested).

And then, of course, when you get back home from your winter walk be sure to do a bit more stretching and drink plenty of water!

How about you?  Do you have some tips to share for . . . walking in a winter wonderland?


Please join us for our Week 3 Read With Us discussion of Just Mercy.  Carole's hosting us for Friday Tuesday Night Snacks -- and you don't want to miss that!


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I have a pair of Keen boots, but thanks for the link to YakTrax - I am going to invest in a set of those so I can walk more safely this winter! (and yes to WOOL!)


I think you've completely covered all the things I do for winter walking. I'm not quite as devoted as your sister, but I do love wearing my YakTrax. John has something for his boots that is made of actual chains and spikes, but you need several inches of snow and ice for these (or to go walking on glaciers)!


This reminds me of the advice I had from another runner when I mentioned weather as a deterrent to running outside - there is no bad weather, just bad clothing choices.


One thing I would add as a possibility to winter walking: trekking poles.
Since my bout of vestibular neuritis, it is impossible for me to walk fast enough for a cardio workout. But the addition of trekking poles increases the workload and the stability for a walking workout. It was a great suggestion by my GP.
If you haven't tried them, I would suggest giving them a try.


Like Valerie, I have trekking poles too. I actually use them year round - not for regular walking, but if we are mountain hiking I will use them, and they are very helpful in snow/slippery conditions. The other thing I am religious about is moisturizing (face, hands, lips). Nice list Kym.


I heartily agree with the trekking poles suggestions! They are very handy when it's raining, too. One additional suggestion is waterproof, windproof pants! Living in the desert, we get more rain/wind than snow.


I am a walker too, though I wish I were a daily walker. Bad weather stops me and most often it's the wind and snow! I love that your sister is a daily walker and in Cheyenne! That is a tough area to be outside year round. Being 30min. south of Cheyenne, I would love to know what gear, boots she wears in wind and snow!


I had to laugh at your "warm up first" tip, because my walking is my walk to work and I'm usually warmed up plenty before I leave the house because I'm running all over trying to make sure that the other members of my family have everything they need for the day before I can get out the door!

Another tip I heard last year about walking on icy or slippery surfaces is to walk like a penguin -- shorter steps (waddling, really) and with your weight slightly forward, over the front of your feet. I'm sure I look a bit ridiculous, but I haven't fallen once since I started doing it, so it must be working!


These are terrific tips for cold weather walking. I can't stress strongly enough how important it is to NOT fall. Seriously. I see every day how life altering a fall can be.


Thanks for sharing these tips...we don't get too much snow in DC but it can get very cold so the tips about wool vs cotton are really good to know/remember. Your sister is amazing!


My only tip for winter walking is the Treadmill! I have Uggs and Hunter boots that keep my feet warm and dry, but neither are ice-worthy. I'm incredibly respectful of anyone who walks outside in the winter. by choice. of course I might also think you're just a little crazy too ;-)


Yaktrax are available at our Costco right now (so likely yours too) - if anyone is planning to add them to their equipment. I've been thinking about them, maybe time to do it!


Thank you for the suggestions for winter walking. I have spikes and poles which come in very handy on snowy/icy days. The new trail next to our property looks perfect for winter walking and I'm looking forward to trying my new knee out with a good walk soon. I need to find some warm leggings (that come in tall).


If you have balance issues maybe it is not such a good idea to go walking on snow and ice at night. Even with equipment. This is one of those things we don't think of unless or until it affects us or someone we know.

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