Many Americans have made the pledge to lead healthier lifestyles this year.  One of the benefits of this pledge could help save their sight, something they may not have thought about.  They may not realize that  the effects of smoking, poor diet and inactive lifestyle can lead to eye disease and significant vision loss and that by establishing healthy habits the risk for blinding eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), can be lessened.  Because January was National Eyecare Month and Glaucoma Awareness Month, we focused on two articles: “Understanding the Value of Eye Safety”, and “Are Your Eyes Wide Open When it Comes to Keeping a Check on Them?”  We hope you will review those articles if you have questions regarding this important topic.

The month of February is recognized as “AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month,” so we need to continue emphasizing how very important taking care of our vision is.  AMD is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness for those ages 65 and older.  It usually begins as a loss of central vision, which results in difficulty to read or see fine details.  It affects the macula, which is in the center of the retina.  Over time, the vision loss progresses significantly. Although there is promising research into the disease, unfortunately, there is still no cure.  Risks to middle-aged persons of having AMD is only about 2%, but after age 65, the risk is greater.

However, steps can be taken to reduce the risk.  Quitting smoking is essential to maintain healthy vision.  Research shows that smokers are up to four times more likely than non-smokers to be diagnosed with AMD.  And, non-smokers living with smokers almost double their risk of developing AMD through second-hand smoke.  The World Health Organization names smoking as the only modifiable risk factor for AMD.

Eating a diet filled with green leafy vegetables rich in Lutein can also help lessen the risk of AMD.  Lutein is a naturally occurring molecule found vegetables such as spinach, kale and collard greens. It can also be found in corn, egg yolks and other vegetables and fruits.  Eating foods high in zinc, vitamins C and E, and beta carotene has also been shown to help slow the progression of AMD in some patients, according to the National Eye Institute (NEI).  Frequently eating nuts or fish, such as salmon, tuna or mackerel, may also help reduce the risk.

According to the AMD Alliance International (AMDAI), certain foods should also be avoided, including foods and processed baked goods with high-fat content.  A high-fat, high-cholesterol diet can lead to fatty plaque deposits in the macular vessels, which can hamper blood flow.  Research has indicated that those consuming red meat at least 10 times a week or more were at a 47 percent higher risk for AMD.

The risk of vision loss from eye diseases, including AMD, can be lowered if adults:

  • Control blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Stay active and exercise regularly
  • Get a complete eye exam from an eye care professional
  • Watch their weight
  • Do not smoke

“We all know the steps we should take to take better care of ourselves,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness America.  “What we want to stress is how leading a healthy life can help lead to healthy vision.” 

Keep in mind that you don’t have to grow old to have AMD, but if you take care of yourself as you age, you have a better chance to avoid it.  Some other risk factors include: obesity, family history, gender (females have a greater risk than men of having AMD), and race (Caucasians have a greater risk than African Americans to have AMD).  Prevent Blindness America and the National Eye Institute offer excellent resources for those with low vision problems.  We acknowledge both these programs for sharing this important information.


Elevators, escalators, and moving sidewalks are very efficient mass transit systems.  Because we use them in museums, zoos, theme parks, airports, theatres, hotels, apartment complexes, office buildings, hospitals, and many other places, we probably take them for granted.  These ways of moving hundreds of people every day or night require continuous safety monitoring and are required to meet OSHA safety regulations and standards.  They must be inspected annually. 

Elevators began to appear in city buildings in the 19th century.  Although the fatality rate is very low – around 30 or so per year, here are some safety tips to keep in mind when you enter an elevator. 

  •          First, if you are uneasy about anyone on the elevator you are planning to enter, wait and catch the next one.  Never take an unnecessary chance.
  •          Use caution around closing doors.
  •          Never attempt to slide in at the last minute. 
  •         Enter and exit cars only at designated floor alignments.
  •          Be sure the elevator is lined up with the floor.
  •          Push the call button only once; you just slow down the service if you keep pushing the buttons.
  •         Should you become trapped inside the elevator, call for help.
  •          Never put your hand in between the doors to stop them from closing; there is a button that will do that for you.

Elevators have multiple safety features, such as platform sensors, backup power, manual systems (in case of power outages), emergency phone, alarms, and automatic controls.  Call for help and wait for crews to properly align the car, should it get stuck midway.   

Escalators are used about 120 billion times annually in the United States.  I have always been more careful when getting on or off an escalator since I got “popped” off one when I was a kid, and wasn’t paying attention when it reached the floor I needed to exit.  One tip is to make sure that your shoes are tied before getting on one.

Here are some other things to keep in mind when riding an escalator: 

  • Do not ride an escalator if you are wearing soft-sided flexible clogs or slides.
  • If you wear bifocals, take extra care stepping on and off the escalator.
  • Find the escalator emergency shut-off buttons in case you need to stop the escalator.
  • Never ride an escalator if you are using crutches or a cane.
  • Take an elevator rather than riding the escalator if you feel dizzy or have problems keeping your balance.
  • Hold your child’s hand firmly.
  • Don’t carry large packages, bags or rolling luggage onto an escalator.
  • Stand in the middle of the escalator step and don’t lean on the side.
  • Keep loose clothing clear of steps and sides. 

Information from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says that about 20,000 escalator-related accidents require emergency room treatment each year.  The majority of the incidents were from falls, but 10 per cent occurred when hands, feet or shoes became entrapped.  Many accidents could have been prevented by the use of basic safety precautions. 

Moving sidewalks are very helpful, especially in large airports when you need to get from one part of the building to another.  They require the same safety monitoring as elevators and escalators.  If you plan to ride only on the moving sidewalk, stand to the right side of it.  Those who are walking should stay on the left side, in order to pass those who prefer not to walk on the moving sidewalk.   As with escalators, hold onto the handrail. 

It may seem simple to those who use these types of transportation on an every-day basis.  However, we cannot stress the importance that safety plays when using these means of transportation.  For those who own, operate, or service elevators, escalators, or moving sidewalks, liability is a major concern.  They all require certified inspections that meet federal safety regulations.  These types of heavy, moving equipment should be taken seriously.  We may take them for granted, but think about how many stairs you would have to climb or steps you would have to take if they didn’t exist.  Stay safe, and enjoy the ride!


It seems that things haven’t improved in the past few years regarding employees getting injured because they were not wearing their personal protective equipment on the job.  Surveys of safety professionals, conducted by Kimberly-Clark Professional at the National Safety Council Congress in 2006, 2007, and 2008, found high levels of non compliance with PPE protocols.  In 2006, there was 85% non-compliance; 87% in 2007, and 89% in 2008.  

The headline in the latest Kimberly Clark survey of 132 attendees at the American Society of Safety Engineers show in Baltimore, Maryland, conducted via the Internet between June 9, and 13, 2010, reads: U.S. Workers Risking Injury By Not Wearing Safety Equipment.   Almost all safety professionals in this survey reported that workers in their companies had at some point failed to wear the necessary safety equipment while on the job.  According to this survey, the top workplace safety issue by all respondents was worker compliance with PPE protocols. 

The most challenging PPE category, (eye protection and safety glasses), according to 42 per cent of respondents,  was that nearly three out of five workers who experienced eye injuries were found not to be wearing eye protection at the time of the accident or were wearing the wrong kind of eye protection for the job.  This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  NIOSH reports that around 2,000 U.S. workers each day have a job-related eye injury requiring medical treatment, and the U.S. Labor Department says that thousands are blinded each year from work-related eye injuries that could have been prevented.  What is so hard about putting on a pair of safety glasses, goggles, or side shields?  

Hearing protection was the next highest category for noncompliance.  Occupational noise-induced hearing loss is 100 per cent preventable when proper preventative measures are implemented.  Coming in next were gloves, followed by head protection.  Some of the complaints from workers were: uncomfortable, too hot, unavailable near the task, poor fit, or unattractive looking. 

We all know that every business must have a strong safety culture, beginning at the top.  It is important for managers and upper level bosses to wear safety products that apply to their workers any time they are on the shop floors, or other areas where their employees can see them.  They and the floor supervisors should set the example and be consistent with it. 

Personal protective equipment is more effective if it fits well and is comfortable.  Persons in charge of purchasing these products should keep in mind the different sizes and shapes of their employees.  Good training is necessary, as well.  Whether you have young workers who think they are never going to get hurt, or more experienced ones that have had the good fortune to not be in an accident, stating “it’s never going to happen to me,” may sadly be fooled one day. 

Supervisors who have seen employees get hurt on the job, say it is helpful if an employee can tell his/her co-workers how it happened and how it has changed his/her life, if the injury was serious.  Wearing PPE should be a condition of employment.  If a worker is not complying with that rule, they should be reprimanded just the same as any other violation of their work agreement.  They need to understand that they can lose their job by failing to wear equipment that could possibly save their limbs or even their life.  Contractors should comply the same as regular employees and ensure their employees follow the same safety protocols.  If a job gets shut down because of non-compliance, and there is no pay for time that they are shut down, it may get everyone’s attention pretty fast. 

If your excuse was “I didn’t have time to put it on,” was it because you were late getting to work?  “I won’t get in an accident” or “I’ve been doing it that way for years, and so far, so good!” are just reasons that really don’t fly.  You have to be responsible for your safety, and your employer buys you that equipment to keep you safe.  It is important that you keep up with it, take care of it, and wear it at all times on the job. 

There’s been much discussion about safety incentives.  Some companies give safety awards when their employees go for a year without a lost-time accident.  At one place I worked, we got pizza for going a month without a lost-time accident; however, there were people that got hurt, but wouldn’t report it because they didn’t want the others to lose their pizza party!  One good suggestion was from a manager that gave “on-the-spot” rewards.  If he observed an employee using safe work practices, he would hand him/her small treats such as movie tickets, dinner gift cards, fuel gift cards, some nice safety glasses, gloves, or glove clips.  

Whether you get a reward for safe actions at work or not, the main prize is staying safe throughout your entire career.  Having a supervisor that watches and observes like a “mother hen” really is the key.  Supervisors know a lot more than we think they do, sometimes.  They are responsible for your safety and seeing that you do everything you can to work safely. One of the most important things you can do is to wear your PPE, whenever it is required.

If it doesn’t fit or there’s another problem, tell your supervisor or manager.  Otherwise, no excuse is good enough when you take a chance with safety.


Because I am a non-smoker, this is not meant to preach to those who are.  I never was interested in even trying it, and was advised by an older friend when I was a young, newly married woman, to not start it, because it is expensive, and a hard habit to break.  My dad smoked and so did my husband.  I worked for years in an office that was full of smoke, because during those times the majority of people did smoke.  Stars in movies smoked, maybe because they thought it made them look more sophisticated.  It was just something I didn’t enjoy being exposed to.  Experts advise that tobacco is addictive; anyone who has stopped smoking will tell you that is true; it is a very hard thing to overcome, as with any addiction. 

Recently, the American Lung Association released a comprehensive State of Tobacco Control 2010 report that offers information regarding policies and programs that have been proven effective in confronting the country’s tobacco epidemic.  It graded the federal government, District of Columbia, and all states on their tobacco control laws and regulations that were in effect as of January 1, 2011.  

It is interesting to see how each state has worked to help smokers quit smoking.  There were only five states – Arkansas, Maine, Montana, Oklahoma and Vermont that got all passing grades.  Oklahoma barely passed with straight D’s.  Most states flunked outright.  The federal government’s top grade of B was for the Food and Drug Administrations’ putting into effect landmark legislation on curbing tobacco marketing and sales to kids, to end misleading cigarette labels and require larger health warnings on smokeless tobacco products.  Many states enacted cigarette taxes for new revenues to balance budgets in hard times, but they did not invest in programs to help smokers quit and keep kids from starting.  Texas got F’s for the amount it spends on anti-smoking campaigns, F for smoke free air, and F for not including cessation programs in Medicaid.  You can check how your state was graded by going to State of Tobacco Control 2010, American Lung Association. 

Each year, 443,000 people die from tobacco-related illnesses and secondhand smoke exposure.  Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in America.  It also costs the economy more than $193 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity. 

If you smoke, make your own list of Pros and Cons.  I think you will find it much harder to list more good against the bad that comes from smoking.  In reading the lists of many, the Pros include: bonding with other smokers and momentary gratification.  Cons mentioned were:  after-smell it leaves on clothes, furniture, car, house; breathing problems, cough; heartburn, shortness of breath, wasted time outside in bad weather, and expense. 

People who smoke think that they are being unfairly punished by having to smoke only in areas designated for them; persons who don’t smoke have felt for years that they were exposed to unwanted smoke, so there are probably hard feelings either way about the subject.  It is something to consider, though, especially for those who have small children, who shouldn’t have to breathe smoke in the home or car.  

The bottom line is: what we do with our health is our responsibility.  If a state gets a failing grade for not helping persons cease doing things that are harmful to their health, it’s is not their fault.  It’s our own.  We risk hurting ourselves in many ways, so place the blame where it belongs – on each individual who chooses to ignore the warning signs.  The way for each one of us to get an A is to choose ways of living  that will keep us both safe and healthy.


One of the bad things that happens particularly in cold winter months is a visit by “Mr. Flu Bug” (influenza).  It’s been reported recently that the flu is already widespread in several states.  During 2009-2010, a new and very different flu virus (2009 H1N1) spread worldwide,  causing the first flu pandemic in more than 40 years. It is estimated that the 2009 H1N1 pandemic resulted in more than 12,000 flu-related deaths in the U.S.  In contrast to seasonal flu, nearly 90 percent of the deaths occurred among people younger than 65 years of age. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • muscle or body aches
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • headaches
  • fatigue (very tired)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever. 

Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. In addition,  a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or nose. You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time. 

Flu is unpredictable and how severe it is varies widely from one season to the next depending on many things, including: what viruses are spreading; how much flu vaccine is available; how many people receive vaccinations; how well the vaccine is matched to flu viruses causing the illness, and when the vaccine is available. 

Certain people are at greater risk for serious complications if they get the flu. This includes older people, young children, pregnant women and people with asthma, diabetes, heart disease or other underlying health problems.  Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. 

You may choose one of two ways to protect yourself from the virus:

  • The “flu shot”–an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle. The seasonal flu shot is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people, people with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women.
  • The nasal–spray flu vaccine –a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu (sometimes called LAIV for “Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine”). LAIV is approved for use in healthy* people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop that protect against influenza virus infection. Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses caused by non-influenza viruses.  The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the three influenza viruses that research suggests will be most common. It will protect against 2009 H1N1, and two other influenza viruses (an H3N2 virus and an influenza B virus). 

As all experts advise, wash your hands often, or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available, stay away from crowds as much as possible, and if you begin to start feeling sick, stay home.  Should you contact the flu, do not return to work or school until all symptoms are gone, and fever is absent for at least 24 hours.  Persons with the flu should avoid people that are more likely to become infected – those as described earlier, with other health problems. 

We hope this “unwelcome bug” doesn’t make a stop at your house.  If you haven’t been vaccinated, consider doing so.  There’s much more cold weather ahead of us, and this seems to be the primary time for flu, although the season runs through March.

Source: Centers for Disease Control


As of Sunday, January 23rd, football fans now know who is coming to play in the Super Bowl – the Green Bay Packers versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Congratulations to both teams, and welcome to Texas – players, families, and fans! 

In case you don’t already know, everything is big in Texas, including the $40 million budget that has been set to put on this giant extravaganza.  Being called the “North Texas Super Bowl,” practices and other events are spread  throughout  the Metroplex.  The Steelers will stay in Fort Worth and practice at TCU’s facilities.  The Packers will stay in Irving, and hold their workouts in SMU’s facilities.  Media events (around 5,000 press reporters are expected) will be held in Dallas.  The NFL Experience will be at Dallas’ Convention Center and will run between January 27 and February 7.  Authorities expect more than 250,000 persons to attend this event.  Last, but not least, the big match-up will take place in Arlington’s Dallas Cowboys Stadium, an experience within itself. 

State and federal authorities have been assisting local law enforcement departments develop Super Bowl safety plans for the past several months.  Of course, the entire security plan cannot be revealed, however it is important for local residents to know what to expect.  Local media will inform residents of areas they may want to avoid during the weekend.   Robots, bomb sniffing dogs and drones are just some of the safety features that will be utilized.  Robert Champion, Special Agent in charge of ATF and Explosives agency reports this is his third Super Bowl, and by far the largest he has ever dealt with. 

Deputy Chief Tom Lawrence of the Dallas Police Department said the busiest times are expected to be Thursday through Saturday prior to the February 6th game.  The biggest concern is traffic congestion.  Streets must be left open so traffic can be moved in case of emergencies.   The City of Arlington has invested $715,000 in adding surveillance cameras, liability insurance for out of town public safety employees and overtime expenses for code compliance officers during game events.  This expense is expected to be repaid from revenue from additional sales taxes generated by the game. 

People are spending a lot of money to come to the game and experience all the excitement that comes with it.  They will be enjoying a taste of Texas’ food and hospitality.  The cities within the Metroplex are sprucing up  landscapes and getting ready to welcome everyone.  Local law enforcement and state troopers will be working hard to enforce the law in order to ensure a safe weekend for all.  As of last week, 299 Super Bowl events have been planned in Dallas alone.  Because there will be lots of partying, this is a good time to “rain on the parade” a little by warning those who plan to do so, to choose a designated driver.  There will be too much traffic during this busy weekend to take a chance on having an accident.  Don’t spoil the good time for everyone else.  DPS troopers and local law enforcement officers will be out in full force. 

Now’s the time to get your team merchandise.  If you can’t make it to the game, and your work requires you to wear a hardhat, what better way to show your support of the Packers or Steelers than by wearing a team NFL Football hardhat with their logo?  Wear it to games, too!  If you are one of the fortunate ones to be going to the game, you might think about a pair of disposable earplugs, too, as it will be noisy! 

Texas welcomes everyone who plans to attend this big event.  Have a safe stay, and Y’all Come Back!


The main feat to be accomplished in today’s world is to get a job and then prove that you are going to be a loyal employee and perform whatever is asked of you to the best of your abilities.  When asking employers what they are looking for when they are hiring, many common denominators are given: a good work ethic, attitude, intelligence, honest, dedicated, experienced, educated, and that the employee will make a good impression with their customers.  These traits are the ones we all want to have. 

Male or female, a new employee has to begin with the attitude that this company will benefit “by hiring me.”  You have to sell yourself, and once hired, you have to prove yourself.  It doesn’t matter if it is in an office, factory, grocery store, manufacturing, or sales, you have to have the enthusiasm and commitment to do the job you are hired to do.  Job descriptions include the skills needed to fill the offered position.  They are looking for those who can solve problems, work with others as a team, show initiative, and be a self-starter.  Not all of us have college degrees, and there are plenty of jobs that don’t require that much education.  On the other hand, many persons are desperately looking for work who are over qualified for some positions.  Regardless, there is a job that is right for each person;  the trick is to find it. 

Once you have a job, one of the first priorities in training is that of safety on the job.  You may be driving a company vehicle, working in manufacturing or construction, or sitting at a desk.  Regardless, it is imperative that you pay attention to the safety leaders in order to keep yourself and your coworkers safe on the job.  Go into any new job with a positive attitude; it’s more pleasant for everyone to not work with someone with negative thoughts or constant complaining.

As an employee, how do you measure up?  Do you work with people that enjoy horseplay around the shop, or on the job?  Are you one that instigates that type of behavior, or just goes along with it?  If you see a hazard, do you feel free to go to your supervisor and report it?  Most companies enforce their safety standards, and should make their employees feel welcome to be included in discussions about how to eliminate risks.  In all reality, no one wants to get hurt or see another person get injured.  You should be able to identify workplace safety and health issues and follow up with a manager before someone does get sick or hurt.

Good employees will go above and beyond their immediate field or area of responsibility to communicate their concerns.  We talked about grading our supervisors on the kind of “safety leaders” they are.  Now, think about how they will grade you, concerning safety.  They have the responsibility to teach you and evaluate your job performances, so it is very important that you prove to them that you are eager to do the job you were hired for, and to do it in the smartest, safest way possible.  Many jobs are dangerous ones, and safety is foremost on the minds of all involved.  Other jobs can pose unexpected accidents, so we all benefit from playing it safe.  Pay attention to your instructions and those safety information posters that are put up as a reminder to not take chances or shortcuts.  Be grateful for your job.   There are thousands of people out there that need work and have been unable to find it.  Take care of the job for which you were hired.  Just as when we were in school, we want to make an “A+”.  Don ‘t be satisfied with a “C” or “D”, to barely pass, when it comes to being a safe employee, go for and make the top grade!


There are several positions of management, but the front-line supervisor is usually the person responsible to be the “Safety Leader,” teaching employees all about safety, as well as the other aspects of their job tasks.  It is his or her job to be sure each employee understands the importance of safety in the workplace, and to ensure that they all go home at the end of their workday.  Although there may be a safety chairman and committee at your place of work, the supervisor is usually the one that has the technical skills to teach workers how to go about their work responsibilities.  By combining their human skills, and conceptual workplace skills, supervisors play a vital role in the success of the employees and company.  How would you grade your supervisor?  If you listed the traits of the best supervisor that you have ever worked under, what would your description be? 

Most of us would judge our past or present supervisors on human skills.  Here are several that we look for and appreciate:

  • Honesty
  • Sincerity
  • Motivation
  • Innovation
  • Good communication skills
  • Shows respect
  • Ensures workers’ safety
  • Concern for employees balancing work and home priorities
  • Gives credit to those who deserve praise on their job performance
  • Gives advice privately to those who need a little help

Conceptual workplace skills that leaders show include:

  • Organization
  • Job preparation
  • Using good logic
  • Good decision making
  • Fairly evaluating employees
  • Recognizing employees’ ideas for change that would improve the workplace routine or make things safer. 

A good leader can add these abilities to  technical expertise to ensure a safer, high-performance workplace, and hopefully, fewer near misses and mistakes leading to injury.  Supervisors are the ones with the authority and availability to ensure safe work practices by evaluating work conditions, safe behavior, and workers’ skill levels. 

Supervisors  should also ensure that the facility is OSHA compliant, and work with employees to see that unsafe acts are eliminated.  If workers know that their company strives to keep them safe and healthy, they are going to be inspired to do a good job by producing quality products and offering good service.  All companies want not just a “good safety” program, but a “great safety” program with a goal of O% injuries.

Many supervisors or co-workers do not serve as good role models, and can be reminders of what we don’t want to be like.  Bosses that put employees down, take the credit for others’ accomplishments, yell at people, and complain all the time, are actually displaying ways we should never behave.  The one thing they do teach us, is to never treat others the way they treat their co-workers.

If given the chance to answer a questionnaire (anonymously) about their supervisor, what grade would he or she be given?  It wouldn’t be a personality quiz, only a way for employees to let the company know if they have been well taught about safety and other aspects of their job, based on the quality of their leadership.  Supervisors evaluate  their employees for annual wage increases or other reasons.  Maybe it’s time the employees get to do a little evaluating.  Soon, we’ll look at how employees are graded, and the traits that employers are looking for in good workers.


It is tempting to stay indoors and work out at a local fitness center when the weather is very cold.  However, getting outdoors for a walk or run may be just the thing we need to boost our energy.  You don’t have to go as far as your warm weather outdoor activity, but knowing ways to be prepared for a cold weather walk or run is important.  Before you start winterizing your body, though, be sure to check with your physician if you have health problems such as heart, lung, or asthma.  Pay attention to weather forecasts, and if the wind chill is too low, opt for indoor exercise, or skip it for a day or two.  Wind chills can be extremely unsafe.  Don’t try to exercise outside if it is so cold that there is a risk of hyperthermia or frostbite. 

Because your body temperature will rise once you get going and you get warmer, you need to dress as though the temperature is about 20 degrees warmer than it actually is.  Wear layers, but avoid cotton; it traps moisture and draws heat away from your body.  We always advise you to wear high visibility clothing, even if it is daytime; it may be overcast, and you might not be seen by drivers.  You can find high-visibility gloves, hats, coats, and other clothing.  Also, wear sunglasses to block UV rays, which can damage your eyes.  Reflections on the snow and pavement can  harm your vision.   Also, be sure your shoes furnish good traction, as you want to avoid a slip or fall.  Consider wearing a slightly larger size shoe to accommodate thick socks.  Also, lip balm, earmuffs, or scarf, even a face mask to warm the air before it enters your lungs – all keep your body protected from the cold. 

The natural reaction to being outdoors, is to get to the end of the trail a little faster.  This will boost calorie burning, as well as get you back inside sooner!  Pumping your arms vigorously helps you burn more calories by speeding you up.  Take shorter steps, especially if you are on snow, or possibly ice beneath the snow, to eliminate falling.  Another clever idea is to use Nordic poles.  Plant the pole firmly at a 45-degree angle behind you, and push back forcefully against the ground to propel yourself forward.  In winter weather, it’s better to stretch after your walk/run because your muscles are looser.  To begin, start with a brisk walk or light jog to prime cold muscles.  Remember to drink fluids, as dry winter air can lead to dehydration.

My faithful personal trainer, Buddy, (Jack Russell terrier) and I skipped our daily walk last week because it was pretty nippy.  But this information makes me more determined to put his coat or sweater on, wrap myself up, and keep going, regardless of the cold.  We’ve been walking daily for 11 years, so we must quit slacking just because it’s quite a bit colder.  I hope this will encourage you to do the same.  Be sure to tell someone when you are going and give them your route, just to be on the safe side.


Sources:  Mayo Clinic, Health Magazine