Science

March of the Penguins: Preventive Care Edition

Take a tip from the pros about walking on winter ice


Gentoo Penguins. Credit: National Geographic Creative
Walking: turns out you’ve been doing it wrong this whole time. You’re not alone—falls are the number one injury treated in the emergency room, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. It is even harder to stay upright when it’s icy outside, which is why the CDC recommends you take a few cues from the experts: penguins.

The squat seabirds know the best way to walk on a slippery surface, so why not take advantage of centuries of evolution by mimicking their signature strut?

You balance when your center of gravity is directly over the leg that supports it; you fall when it is not. So spread your feet wide—yup, like a penguin—to form a straight line from torso to tootsie. Extending your flippers, er, arms, yields even better results.

Two other Spheniscidae-oid ways to improve your balance? Turn your feet out or walk flat-footed, says the CDC.

Keeping your weight on your front foot at all times you should keep you out of the emergency room, but if you want points for style, consider donning a full-body penguin suit.  

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