In Canada, the cold and dark winters can create many mental health challenges for us, partly due to barriers to getting active outside. However, outdoor physical activity can help us manage stress and lead to improved mental and physical health.
In winter, we should look to our children to lead the way, as the season brings out the utmost excitement in many of them! The winter season offers a new setting to play and be active in, most notably the snow! Here are some of the best ways to keep your kids (and you!) active this winter:
Tobogganing involves sliding down a snow-covered hill on a slippery surface (plastic mat) or sled. It has a long tradition with the Inuit and Cree Indigenous Peoples of northern Canada, with toboggans originally being used to carry children and goods over snow before the activity became a recreational pastime. Modern toboggans are usually crafted from wood or plastic with a slippery base that will glide on snow. A large piece of cardboard or garbage bag will also do in a pinch!
Nowadays, there are tobogganing bans in certain parts of Canada out of fear that the risk of injury is too high for kids. But, when done safely and supervised, tobogganing can be a lot of active fun! Take your toboggan to the top of a hill, sit or lie on it, and enjoy the ride to the bottom!
2. Have a snowball fight
Snowball fights involve throwing balls of snow at people to intentionally hit them. They tend to be chaotic and often happen when you least expect! Typically, a group of people will form two teams, make snowballs and throw them at their opponents. The intent is not to harm the other team but simply to hit them frequently enough so that they give up.
To avoid injury, check for any stones or debris when packing snowballs. Also, avoid hitting anyone in the head or below the belt.
3. Build a snow fort
Snow fort or igloo building involves making structures out of snow and/or ice. To form these structures, pile snow (preferably wind-blown snow, as it’s already packed down) into a house- or dome-like shape. Natural melting and refreezing will help make them even stronger over time. For safety reasons, be sure to build with one or more other people and skip making the roof to reduce the risk of the structure collapsing.
4. Make a snowperson
Snowperson building is a fun winter activity for kids and adults alike that involves stacking snowballs on top of each other. The most important part is access to packing snow; light, fluffy snow or ice won’t work.
Start by rolling three balls of snow into three different sizes. Then, stack them on top of one another from biggest to smallest. After that, add accessories, like a hat, scarf, carrot nose and stones for eyes to create your very own Frosty or Olaf!
We hope these activities have made you feel a little nostalgic and excited to get back outside and embrace winter, either like a kid again or with your children! These fun activities may just be the actionable solutions you need to start (or continue) enjoying your winter!