When it’s cold outside, it can be tempting to gather the whole family by the fireplace and hibernate for the winter. This is fine on days that it’s dangerously frigid out, but if it’s possible to get outdoors, then the benefits of playing outside during the winter far outweigh the drawbacks. So bundle up the family and head outdoors for a fun day of skiing, building snowmen, or just taking a walk to check out the winter wildlife.
Health Benefits of Playing Outside during the winter
- Reduces the risk of catching a cold. Contrary to popular belief, simply playing outside during the winter cannot cause your children to catch a cold. In fact, spending time in the fresh, chilly air can actually help reduce the risks of this common winter health issue. For one thing, you’re not all cooped up in a cramped, low-ventilation area exposed to other’s germs. For another, the cold weather may actually kill certain types of bacteria that can’t survive in cold weather.
- May lower the risk of developing childhood obesity. The winter months are brutal on a healthy diet, especially with all the holidays that practically encourage over-eating. We also tend to crave higher-calorie foods in the winter because we’re hardwired to store up energy during the months when our ancestors had a hard time finding food in the winter. Going for a winter hike, skiing, or other active outdoor fun can help your kids burn those excess calories and may help prevent childhood obesity.
- Give them a mental boost. Many people, including children, experience at least a bit of the winter blues. Playing outside during the winter in the fresh air and turning those cold months into something to look forward to can help boost the spirits. In turn, this helps kids perform better academically and behaviorally.
Fun Activities for Playing Outside in the Winter
- Take up a winter sport as a family. There are many different winter sporting activities that you can do as a family. Skiing is one of the most popular, but it can also be very expensive. Ice-skating typically doesn’t cost too much, though. You can opt to rent skates, or if you’re planning to go regularly, consider investing in ice-skates for the family. If you live near a frozen lake, you could even take up ice-fishing!
- Play in the snow. Think back to your childhood days of sledding, snowball fights, and building snowmen. All you really needed was a bit of the fluffy, cold white stuff and you were good to go! Next time it snows, don’t just bundle up the kids and send them out to play on their own while you shovel, get down in the snow with them and get active with them! Playing outside during the winter should be a family affair!
- Take a walk. One of the great things about playing outside during the winter is that you really don’t need anything special to do it. Take a family hike and follow tracks in the snow, or grab a book about the wildlife in your area from the library and search for winter birds.
Precautions to take before playing outside in the winter:
- Make sure you dress for the weather. Wearing layers can help keep kids warm, and if you do happen to head indoors at some point, they can prevent overheating by peeling off a few layers.
- Follow safety rules and use common sense. If you decide to try skiing for the first time, make sure you work with an instructor, or at least stick to the beginner slopes. If you’re ice-skating, stay away from thin ice.
- Keep an eye on the weather. While playing outside during the winter has many benefits, you do need to exercise a little precaution to avoid issues like hypothermia.
What do you like to do outdoors during the winter with your family?