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Walking Outdoors in the Winter? Yes, You Can!

Dec 30, 2020 06:00AM ● By Marjorie Turner Hollman
by Marjorie Turner Hollman, Contributing Writer

We are nothing if not adaptable, and yet, the Covid-19 virus continues to test our resolve, ingenuity and spirits. Colder weather is a given in New England in the winter, and most of us spend little time outdoors in these colder months. The truth is that, until the vaccine is readily available, the outdoors is still probably the safest place to be with others who are not in your immediate household. Does this mean we have to give up meeting outside? Not if you are prepared.

Learning to dress for the cold is a first step, and layers are key. This means perhaps a t-shirt, with a sweater or flannel shirt over it. Then a winter jacket, plus a windbreaker. No windbreaker? How about a raincoat? Something to cut the wind, on top of what else you are wearing, will make a huge difference in how comfortable you will feel outdoors. Make sure you have a scarf to keep your neck warm and prevent wind from blowing inside your jacket.
Footwear is of great importance too. Waterproof boots with lug soles will provide much better footing than dress shoes, sneakers, or whatever footwear you usually wear outside. I love my Sorel brand boots, https://www.sorel.com, with rubber lowers and insulated uppers. Thick hiking socks will help keep your feet comfortable. Pants, with perhaps rain pants over them will cut the wind on your legs. L.L.Bean in Mansfield and REI in Framingham are both local stores where you can try on boots and invest in the best socks. 

And those gloves? Think mittens instead, which keep your fingers close to each other, and warmer. You may want to invest in some “instant warm” hand warmers to tuck into your mittens for your walks. Frostbite in cold weather is a real concern, so being prepared, and aware of how you are feeling (or not feeling!) is important.

Be sure to keep your cell phone in your pocket, close to your body warmth, in case of emergency. Icy trails can be treacherous, and you know best your abilities and limitations. In winter, paths in sunny, open fields may be a better option than wooded trails, which do not get as much sunlight and will therefore tend to harbor more ice. Visit www.amazon.com/yak-tracks/s?k=yak+tracks for various choices to put on your boots for icy weather.

Since my ears get chilled in colder weather, I love my hats with earflaps. Try carrying a small backpack to hold extra layers of clothing, and an extra hat and mittens, in case what you are wearing gets wet.

Be watchful of children’s fingers and toes on these outings. Children can become dangerously chilled more quickly than adults, especially if their hands or feet get wet.

Hate wearing a face mask? You will be surprised how much warmer your face feels in winter keeping that face mask on, since it breaks the wind and captures your breath.

So yes, plan to meet outdoors, but be wise about your plans. If you head out after lunch, tuck a headlamp into your backpack in case you are delayed. The sun goes down before 5 pm these days, and you do not want to be out on a dark trail without some light to help guide you back to your car. Plan short outings until you feel comfortable walking for longer spans of time outdoors in winter. Check weather reports before you head out, stay close to home to make it easy to get back home safely if conditions change, and plan to meet friends on familiar trails.
This pandemic will not last forever, but for now, we all need to find ways to get through this winter safely, with our sanity intact. May we all still be here to welcome spring 2021 together.

 

 

 

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