The winter months can be a struggle for many people. It is easy to fall into the habit of remaining cooped up indoors all day curled up in front of the fireplace or on the couch with a cozy blanket when you know that the temperatures outside are below the freezing mark. However, we all know that an active lifestyle is a healthier lifestyle! Let’s talk about fun ways to get outdoors this winter and break through those ‘winter blues’.
Before we dig into the details, I want to take a moment to address the dark reality of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). In referencing the ‘winter blues’, I am in no way meaning to downplay the struggles experienced by those living with SAD.
For those who are unfamiliar with SAD, it is a form of depression that is influenced by the changing season. For most living this reality, the symptoms will come during the late fall/early winter as we start to see shorter days and colder temperatures and will continue through until the spring/summer seasons when they will start to see relief.
If you are living with SAD, please know that this is a very real illness and there are treatment options available. To understand your options, contact your family doctor or local mental health professional. If you, or someone you know, is considering suicide, call 9-1-1, Crisis Services Canada (1-833-456-4566) or go to your nearest hospital.
If you’re living in the colder climate regions of the world, like those of us here in Canada, then you know that this season often ushers in less than ideal weather for many of our usual outdoor activities.
Don’t let this stop you from enjoying the peace and tranquillity offered by time outside. In fact, many outdoor travellers report that with a fresh blanket of snow comes a new level of stillness and silence – a quiet that is rarely experienced any other time of year.
Spending time outdoors during the winter months can be just as enjoyable as outdoor travel the rest of the year.
The secret to a great time outdoors during the winter season lies almost exclusively in your level of preparedness. This isn’t the time of year to just run outside wearing whatever you happen to grab on the way to the door. With serious concerns like hypothermia looming, you need to take the time to consider the steps necessary to keep yourself safe throughout your adventures.
Depending on your activity, you will need to invest in the necessary winter gear to stay warm. This includes, but isn’t limited to, a warm toque, gloves or mittens, a high-quality winter jacket and warm winter boots. Don’t cheap out. Instead, do your research and purchase gear that you can rely on. After all, your health is important!
Another step to being prepared is to consider the situation itself and whether your plans are safe to carry out. Follow the weather and take note of any upcoming storms. Try to use common sense. If the roads are hazardous, stay off them. If there is a major storm coming in that could put you into an unsafe situation, postpone your plans. While it’s important to get outside, your safety should always be a top priority.
Finally, know your limits. If you regularly take 2-hour hikes during the summer months, don’t assume you’re going to be looking at the same timeline. Colder weather can have an impact on your body’s ability to perform. Start shorter and listen to your body. There is no shame in cutting an activity short when necessary.
Check Out These 6 Great Ways to Get Outdoors This Winter
Take a Winter Stroll
The most basic of winter activities, this is something that people of all skill levels can commit to. This can be as easy as taking a walk around your block or through a local park. It doesn’t have to be long, even 15-20 minutes outside in the fresh air can have a positive impact on your overall health and well-being. Your options for scenery will vary depending on whether you live in a busy city or in a remote country setting, and that’s okay!
Are you a runner in the warmer weather? Many runners find that there are great benefits to training during the cooler weather as well. Do you share your life with a dog? If so, you already have a great walking partner. Depending on your dog’s breed, you may have to invest in a warm winter coat or booties to protect your pup from the elements. Remember, if you’re cold, they may be cold too!
If you have access to a more remote area, you can take your winter stroll to the next level. Although some trails may not be fully accessible during the winter months, many will still provide a great place to get outdoors and experience the beauty that nature has to offer.
Take some time to do your research. With the popularity of social media, there are many different groups that you can consult for information about local trails and outdoor travel locations. These are a great opportunity to connect with other outdoor travel enthusiasts, share tips and suggestions. You can also use apps like the AllTrails app to view recent reviews of trails in your area.
Do you live in the Ontario, Canada area? If so, check out our Facebook group ‘Camping & Hiking with Dogs Ontario’
Another great way to experience your local trails, snowshoeing has a long history as a form of winter transportation. Recently, there seems to be a revival of this winter activity as people realize that it provides for a great form of winter exercise for all ages and skill levels, with very little equipment required.
There are many companies that offer snowshoe rentals if you aren’t interested in investing in your own gear. However, if this is an activity you plan on enjoying regularly, you can purchase beginner-level snowshoe gear at a relatively low cost. One well-known brand, ALPS, is currently selling their basic All Terrain Snowshoes including walking sticks and a carry bag starting at $74.99 USD for their adult sizes!
Make sure to read the weight guidelines when shopping for gear to ensure that it can support you and allow you to travel on top of the snow. If you plan on carrying gear, you need to include its weight in this consideration as well.
Are you interested in pushing the limits and going all out? If so, why not consider a winter camping getaway. There are many different winter camping options catering to every level of comfort during the colder months. For beginning winter travellers or those who find it difficult to stay warm during the season, a small cottage will provide you with the comforts of 4 walls and, in many cases, a wood stove. Those who are looking for a more adventurous getaway, tenting in the snow can be an incredible experience.
Winter camping is a great way to extend your opportunity to engage in any of the other activities on this list. If you are a big winter hiker, for example, camping somewhere with a variety of trails will allow you to get out multiple times over a couple of days while returning to your campsite and warming up by the fire during your downtime.
Interested in learning more about winter camping? Check out: ‘Winter Camping | Hot Tenting Vs Cold Camping’
Sharpen your skates and check out your local outdoor ice-skating trails and rinks this season. Many areas towns offer an outdoor skating rink during the winter months to encourage people to spend time together outside. However, if you love skating, you need to check out the skating trails that are available throughout the province.
Not far from my hometown is the Arrowhead Provincial Park skating trail, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of the Muskoka region during the winter season. This trail is 1.3km in length and open daily during the 2019/2020 season. If you want a truly magical experience, head out for Fire & Ice Nights. On these evenings, the trail is open after dark, lit by hundreds of tiki torches.
Looking for a romantic outdoor winter date? Head out ice-skating with that special someone before enjoying a hot chocolate together to warm up.
Downhill or Cross-Country Skiing
One of the most popular outdoor activities during the winter months, skiing is a great way to enjoy the fresh air and get a good workout. If you are lucky enough to live near a local ski hill, downhill skiing is a great way to head out for the day. Are the hills too far away for a day trip? If so, make it a short winter getaway! You can look at renting a chalet or hotel room, or rough it winter camping if there are facilities nearby.
While most people immediately think of downhill when they hear skiing, cross-country skiing is an incredible way to surround yourself with the beauty of nature. A great cardio workout and full-body workout, you can hit the ski trails solo or with a group. Do you enjoy heading outdoors with your dog? Invest in a hands-free leash like the Tuff Mutt Dual-Handle Bungee Leash and bring your pup along for the adventure!
What are your favourite ways to get outdoors this winter? Are you a winter lover, or do you prefer to hibernate until the warmer months arrive?
12 thoughts on “6 Ways to Get Outdoors This Winter”
Snowshoeing is my favorite way to spend time outside during the winter. It’s a great workout!
It’s been a while since I got out snowshoeing, but I have been debating buying a pair of simple beginner snowshoes for my husband and I. Our dogs love being out in the snow, so they’d be game!
Very practical ideas! We live in the South so we don’t really deal with brutal winter weather very much but it does get chilly. Our city just opened up a seasonal ice skating rink so I hope to go ice skating soon (like you mentioned)!
Ice skating always makes me feel like a kid again! Such a fun way to get out and enjoy the fresh air.
Love the suggestions – great ways to start loving winter since it comes year after year!
It’s not going anywhere, so we might as well enjoy it 🙂
Most of these are out of the question for a Dallas girl like me! But I love a good winter walk – it really gets your blood flowing 🙂
Maybe there will come a time when you can take a nice winter vacation somewhere where you can try some of those activities out!
Very fun ideas! If only it snowed in Belfast!! Maybe I’ll have to travel to the states..
You should make a trip over here to Canada and the United States. Not having snow at home, you would likely appreciate it even more than those of us who see it every day throughout the winter.
These are some great ideas Britt. I love going out for Winter walks or shorter hikes this time of year. Weather permitting – we get a lot of rain during the Winter. I never think of ice skating though even with two ink skating rinks near us. As well as a dry ski slope! I need to up my outdoor game. ?
I haven’t been ice skating in FAR too long honestly. I really need to make a point of changing that next winter (it’s too late now here).