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“Walk like a penguin—I swear it helps”

By Calissa Reid

Recently I drove out to Jasper for a weekend of R&R, and it was a beautiful winter wonderland! As we drove up to our cabin, we were greeted by elk, the air was fresh and brisk, and the snow was sparkling against the moonlight. It was so magical.

On the second day of the trip we went to hike Maligne Canyon, a breathtaking 7.5 km hike that follows one of the most interesting canyons in the Canadian Rockies.  For much of the hike you’re following a river and it’s filled with lots of hills—I’m sure you can guess where this is going. I was gripping onto handrails as my feet slid across the ice trying to grip onto something… anything would do.

From up ahead, my friend yelled out to me, “Walk like a penguin!” My first thought was, “I’m going to slip and fall and you’re talking about adorable flightless birds from the southern hemisphere…thanks.” My friend made her way down to me and said it again: “Walk like a penguin—I swear it helps!” She told me that her workplace has been promoting this safety campaign called Walk like a penguin. I promise I’m not making this up. Here’s the lowdown:

When faced with ice—because we’re all going to see ice this winter—you should do the penguin walk:

  • Bend slightly and walk flat footed
  • Point your feet out slightly like a penguin
  • Keep your centre of gravity over your feet
  • Take shorter, shuffle-like steps
  • Keep your arms(or wings) at your sides…not in your pockets
  • Move slowly

This video explains how to strut like our favourite tuxedo birds:

Once I started to walk like a penguin I had much more success staying balanced on our hike and we made it through the trip without any slips or falls.  I was so confident in my penguin walk that we kept on hiking—by the end of the trip we had hiked around 30km.


My penguin walk brought me to this view

 While the terrain was a bit slippery at times, the views made it worthwhile, and knowing we had a spa trip booked for the next day was a great motivator, too!

One Response to ““Walk like a penguin—I swear it helps””

  1. […] more tips on staying safe during winter walks, check out Calissa’s post from a few weeks ago about how to walk safely when trekking through the […]

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