Getting outside and enjoying physical activity is great for your health and well-being any time of the year, but it can be more complicated in the winter. The days get shorter and colder, leaving many people feeling trapped in their homes even as seasonal affective disorder and flu season take hold.
That’s why it’s even more important to find outdoor activities for cold weather. According to the University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry, exercise is a proven way to battle anxiety and depression and can even boost your immune system. And doing your physical activity outside exposes you to a bit of sunlight, which is necessary to produce Vitamin D, an important component of immune system function. The following tips and ideas can help you find cold weather activities to get you outside year-round.
What are safe outdoor activities for winter?
Given the importance of getting outside and moving your body all year, you must have a list of winter activities you enjoy. Do you prefer taking in the scenery by yourself, or do you want to find more social winter activities for families and groups of friends? The following list can give you some inspiration for how to enjoy the cold weather. Even better, these suggestions can all accommodate social distancing, making them safe outdoor activities even when flu or other bugs are going around:
- Skiing, snowboarding, and sledding make great use of winter’s elements.
- Ice skating is a safe outdoor activity. In larger skating rinks, you can easily stay six feet away from other skaters when necessary.
- A picnic or hike can be a safe outdoor activity.
- Have a bonfire with neighbors and friends. If you’re worried about germs, check the current CDC guidelines and distance yourself or wear a mask as needed.
- Renting or visiting a vacation home or cabin in nature can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors, alone or as a group.
How to plan safe family winter activities
Due to the increased prevalence of illness in the winter, it may seem easier to stay healthy by getting outdoors on your own. But there are plenty of winter activities for families that you can practice safely. Non-contact team sports are a great way to get the whole family involved. If you live in a warmer climate, consider activities like volleyball or tennis that can accommodate groups. Pickup soccer is another excellent option if you don’t bundle up too much. If you live in a colder climate, team sports could include broomball, curling, or a competitive snowball fight. You can also look for recreational winter sports organizations in your area to get other ideas.
Building snowmen or snow sculptures is a great way to involve the whole family. Younger or more energetic family members will enjoy the hard work of forming the snowman, while those who prefer a calmer activity can decorate it. Organizing sled races can be a way to involve family members who aren’t able to ride a sled (or don’t want to) — someone needs to call the start and watch the finish line to determine the winner.
Other considerations for safe winter activities
No matter which activity you pick, these ideas will allow you to get out and be active, regardless of age. Team and group activities are a natural way to get the whole family involved, but if your family has varying tastes in cold weather activities, get creative. If you’re concerned about serious illness during the heightened cold and flu season or have family members at risk of serious illness or complications, learn about how life insurance works and how life insurance covers pandemics.